BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union officials are "activating all diplomatic channels" to press home their concerns that looming U.S. energy sanctions against Russia could affect Europe's energy supplies, a spokesman said Monday.
U.S. lawmakers are scheduled to consider the sanctions package as early as Tuesday, and the bill could be sent to President Donald Trump before Congress breaks for the August recess. The measures are aimed at punishing Moscow for meddling in the presidential election and its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria.
EU member states Germany and Austria have criticized the penalties, saying they could affect European businesses involved in piping in Russian natural gas.
In a joint statement last month, Austria's Chancellor Christian Kern and Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel cited a section of the sanctions bill that calls for the United States to continue to oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would pump Russian gas to Germany beneath the Baltic Sea.
European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said Monday that the EU's executive arm is "following this process with some concern regarding the European Union's energy independence and our energy security interests."
He would not speculate on any possible EU retaliation should European businesses be hurt by U.S. sanctions.
"We in the European Union will have interests in this discussion and we expect this interest to be addressed by the ongoing pre-legislative process" in the United States, Schinas said.
His comments came despite senior Republicans saying Saturday that revisions to the package have resolved fears that the sanctions could have unintentionally complicated Europe's access to energy resources outside of Russia.