JOINT Brief nº 27 (May 2023)
The Ukraine accelerated a global energy crisis just as the world was beginning to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. Venezuela has the largest crude oil and the eighth largest gas reserves in the world and can therefore offer an alternative for Europe to replace its fossil fuels imports from Russia. The problem is, of course, that EU–Venezuela relations have been in a sorry state since the EU denounced President Nicolás Maduro’s re-election in 2018 as neither free nor fair. Since then, the EU has adopted targeted sanctions against the Venezuelan government, thus adding to the maximum economic pressure that former US President Donald Trump imposed on Caracas in an attempt to fatally weaken Maduro. This approach has yielded no result in that respect, and the war in Ukraine, and its energy security implications for the EU, creates the occasion for a revision of EU and US strategies. The hope is that a “more carrots, less sticks” approach could convince Maduro to engage in meaningful dialogue with the opposition. The EU must seize this opportunity of rapprochement and readiness and push forward the recommendations put forth in its electoral observation mission’s report of 2021, reconcile internal disputes to focus on the big picture, give momentum to dialogue efforts, consolidate support among regional allies and rekindle its efforts towards humanitarian relief.
Anna Ayuso is Senior Research Fellow at the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB).
Tiziano Breda is a Researcher in the Global Actors Programme at the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI).
Elsa Lilja Gunnarsdottir is Junior Research Fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs(NUPI).
Marianne Riddervold is Research Professor at NUPI.