The European Union will summon Venezuela's ambassador to the bloc in protest at President Nicolas Maduro's decision to expel Brussels' top diplomat to the Latin American nation, EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Virginie Battu has announced.
"We are going to summon Maduro's ambassador to the European institutions today and, from there, we will see what measures will be taken," Battu said, speaking to reporters on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned that Brussels would retaliate against Caracas over its decision.
"We condemn and reject the expulsion of the EU ambassador to Caracas. The EU will take the usual measures in this case on the principle of reciprocity," Borrell said in a statement, without expanding on what these measures might be.
Venezuela Accuses EU of 'Colonialist' Attitude
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza echoed Maduro's sentiment in a tweet, accusing Brussels of repeating its "interventionist" foreign policy of days gone by, and suggesting that the bloc's "colonial legacy and reminiscences" have pushed them "through the abyss of illegality, aggression and persecution of our peoples."
The 11 Venezuelan officials who were slapped with sanctions include lawmakers, a magistrate and a senior officer in the military. The European Council approved sanctions against the officials after accusing them of "creating obstacles to a political and democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela," including stripping some opposition lawmakers of their parliamentary immunity.
The European Union joined the US in recognizing self-appointed opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido as the country's 'interim president' in January 2019, two weeks after President Maduro began his second term in office. However, the bloc appeared to soften its position against the Maduro government earlier this year, supporting Caracas' request for $5 billion in loan assistance from the International Monetary Fund amid the coronavirus pandemic, while reiterating that only a "political and democratic solution accepted by all Venezuelan actors" would be acceptable to Brussels.
The EU's US allies, for their part, have introduced tough sanctions against Venezuela's energy and banking sectors, frozen tens of billions of dollars' worth of Caracas's assets abroad, and threatened to sanction any nation that continues to do business with the country. Earlier this month, Washington slapped sanctions on Mexican companies linked to Venezuela.