Ex-German Chancellor Schroeder under EU pressure to leave Rosneft

By Francesco Guarascio

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Parliament is expected to seek the blacklisting of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder if he does not resign as a member of the board of Russian state oil company Rosneft.

The draft resolution, which also applies to Karin Kneissl, former Austrian foreign minister in the government of Sebastian Kurz, is supported by the four largest political groups in the European Assembly but is still subject to minor changes .

Critics blame Schroeder, who as chancellor sponsored the building of more gas pipelines, for deepening Germany’s energy dependence on a neighbor that has now turned hostile.

Schroeder was not immediately available for comment.

The parliament “notes that former politicians (..) have recently resigned from their positions in Russian companies and strongly requests that others, such as Karin Kneissl and Gerhard Schroeder, do the same”, indicates the draft document.

The text is expected to be adopted later Thursday. It is not binding, but it represents significant pressure on the EU to act against Europeans considered close to the Kremlin.

The EU has so far agreed to freeze the assets of hundreds of oligarchs and Kremlin-linked officials as part of moves against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, but refrained from targeting directly Europeans occupying high-level positions in Russian companies considered to support the military operation in Ukraine.

Parliament urges “to extend the list of people targeted by EU sanctions to include European members of the boards of directors of major Russian companies and politicians who continue to receive Russian money”.

“By holding leadership positions in Kremlin-affiliated companies, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is de facto cooperating closely with Russia,” said center-right lawmaker Markus Ferber, who helped draft the resolution.

A spokesman for the EU’s foreign policy department did not comment on the parliament’s resolution, but stressed that individual sanctions needed evidence and the support of all 27 governments.

Schroeder is also chairman of the shareholders’ committee of the company in charge of building the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Germany and Russia, a project that has now been abandoned.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio, Additional reporting by John O’Donnell in Frankfurt, Editing by William Maclean)