EU Sanctions Exemptions: A Historic Misstep

EU Sanctions
EU SanctionsImage Source: EUROFER


The 12th package of EU sanctions, allowing exemptions for highly carbon-intensive Russian steel imports, triggers criticism. European Steel Association's Director General labels this move a significant error, asserting it weakens sanctions, clashes with EU climate objectives, and aids Russia's aggressive agenda against Ukraine.



In a contentious decision, the European Union granted exemptions to the import of high-carbon Russian steel, marking a significant divergence from its sanctions regime against Russia. Axel Eggert, Director General of the European Steel Association (EUROFER), lambasted this move, deeming it a historic misstep by EU member states.

Eggert's scathing critique emphasized the detrimental consequences of these exemptions. He highlighted the paradoxical nature of this decision, asserting that it not only dilutes the efficacy of EU sanctions against Russia but also contradicts the EU's climate targets. Furthermore, Eggert pointedly implicated the strategic significance of steel in both the Russian economy and its military operations, citing its direct involvement in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Central to Eggert's argument was the alarming price difference – Russian slabs being 26% cheaper than those from other third countries. He vehemently criticized select steel processing firms for capitalizing on this advantage, creating an unfair advantage within the market.

The EUROFER Director General concluded by questioning the rationale behind favoring a handful of importers at the expense of EU-wide objectives. He highlighted the success of Ukrainian re-rollers in diversifying their import sources away from Russia, suggesting other importers could adopt similar strategies.

This decision, published on December 19, 2023, has drawn stark criticism for potentially undermining the EU's collective stance against Russia.


The EU's decision to grant exemptions for carbon-intensive Russian steel imports sparks severe criticism from EUROFER's Director General. This move, deemed a significant mistake, not only weakens the effectiveness of EU sanctions but also contradicts the bloc's climate objectives. The need for consistent, stringent measures remains crucial in aligning with the EU's strategic goals.

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