European Parliament adopted a resolution on Wednesday calling for the European Council — the Union's executive arm — to impose sanctions on all Lebanese officials obstructing the election of a new president and the investigation into the Aug. 4, 2020, Beirut port explosion.
MEPs are called for EU assets of sanctioned individuals to be frozen, and for such 2021 targeted sanctions against Lebanon, due to expire on July 30 this year, to be "immediately" extended.
"The current situation in Lebanon is caused by politicians across the ruling class and illegally armed parties blocking the democratic and constitutional process. The political elite must take responsibility for this situation," reads the resolution.
MEPs note a "lack of progress in the fight against corruption and impunity" since the start of the 2019 economic crisis.
European Parliament called on the European Commission and prosecutor's office to investigate the use of EU funds allocated to Lebanon, expressing concern about "numerous cases of mismanagement and fraud."
The institution advocated the introduction of economic aid accompanied by measures against fraud.
Putting national interests first
On the political front, the European resolution urged Lebanese MPs to "elect a president as soon as possible to find solutions to the political, social, financial and health crises." The MEPs called on Lebanese leaders to "give priority to national interests."
The MEPs also called for a "transparent, independent, neutral and effective investigation into the explosion at the port of Beirut, which is a priority and must be guaranteed."
The resolution demanded an "international fact-finding mission" to be sent under the aegis of the United Nations and for the authorities to "cooperate with Judge Bitar," the investigating judge in charge of the case.
This is a"huge victory for the families of the victims," Zena Wakim, a lawyer and president of the Accountability Now association, told L'Orient-Le Jour. "The resolution clearly denounces the obstruction and abuse of power by the various political players. This is a historic vote that reinvigorates our fight to put an end to impunity in Lebanon."
Additionally, the European Parliament saluted the "role played by Lebanon in welcoming Syrian refugees," but expressed its "concern" about repatriation operations because Syria is not "considered as a country where a safe return is guaranteed."
The resolution went on to express "concern at the anti-refugee rhetoric employed by Lebanese political parties and ministers."
This section of the resolution was strongly criticized by far-right MEP Thierry Mariani.
"The European Parliament has just voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution supporting the continued presence of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Among the French elected representatives, only those from the Rassemblement National voted against this insult to the Lebanese and their future," Mariani said via Twitter.