European Union foreign ministers agreed on 22 April to ease oil sanctions on Syria in a bid to help anti-regime rebels, who have recently taken control of some of the country’s key oil fields . The EU said the ministers “today eased certain EU sanctions against Syria, including the oil embargo, so as to help the civilian population and support the opposition.” EU sanctions were imposed in 2011 in response to the Asad regime’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests. Sanctions banned exports of key equipment and technology to the Syrian oil and gas sectors, including refining, gas liquefaction, exploration and production (MEES, 12 September 2011).

The EU statement went on to say that the authorities in EU member countries are allowed to authorize three types of transactions – oil imports, including related finance and insurance; exports to Syria of key equipment and technology for the oil and gas industry, including related finance and insurance; and investments in the Syrian oil industry. However, before approving such transactions, the EU authorities will need to consult with the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces, so as to ensure that transactions do not bypass EU sanctions. (CONTINUED - 913 WORDS)