BRUSSELS, June 30 – The European Union condemned on Tuesday a decision by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to expel the bloc’s envoy, calling for Caracas to reverse its move and summoning Venezuela’s ambassador to EU headquarters.
Maduro’s decision on Monday to give the EU envoy, Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa, 72 hours to leave the country followed fresh European financial sanctions on 11 Venezuela officials who the bloc accuses of hindering Venezuela’s National Assembly.
“The EU firmly condemns this decision and profoundly regrets the further international isolation that will result,” the 27 governments of the bloc said in a statement. “We call for this decision to be reversed.”
Separately, the EU said it would summon the Venezuelan ambassador in Brussels. The bloc’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said on Twitter that he would take “the usual necessary measure of reciprocity.”
An EU spokeswoman declined to give more details.
While the EU is among Western parties pushing for fresh elections, the dispute is likely to make a negotiated diplomatic solution to Venezuela’s crisis even harder. The EU reiterated on Tuesday that a way out “must be based on credible elections.”
The bloc earlier this month said a decision by the South American nation’s Supreme Court in May to ratify an ally of Maduro as president of the National Assembly was illegitimate.
The EU believes opposition leader Juan Guaido is the rightful congressional president following his election by the majority of members in January, not the court-approved Luis Parra.
Parra was among those named in Monday’s sanctions, along with Franklyn Duarte and Jose Gregorio Noriega, who were named as vice-presidents of the assembly in the May court ruling.
The EU said the new list took the number of Venezuelan officials under travel bans and asset freezes to 36. (Reporting by Robin Emmott Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)