Brussels – The European Union has warned Venezuela that recent developments in the preparations for upcoming elections and the worsening economic situation are causing "further polarization and are preventing progress on the multiple crises" the country faces.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini issued the statement on behalf of EU member states as Venezuela, which is embroiled in a political crisis and is also on the brink of economic collapse, is set to hold presidential, regional and local elections on May 20.
"We deeply regret that elections have been convened without a wide agreement on the electoral calendar nor on the conditions for a credible and inclusive electoral process," Mogherini said.
EU to respond with "appropriate measures"
"We also regret the continued existence of political prisoners and obstacles to limit the participation of political parties and candidates."
President Nicolas Maduro is seeking a new term after he consolidated his power last year by creating a new assembly to rewrite the constitution. The EU said it would respond with "appropriate measures" to any action undermining democracy.
The oil-rich nation is also facing economic collapse, after years of mismanagement combined with a global drop in oil prices.
The EU said it was also concerned about the "social impact of the ongoing economic crisis that is seriously affecting the population, including many European citizens residing in the country."
The bloc also warned of the "current mass migration" caused by the economic uncertainly, which puts a strain on host communities – especially in Colombia and Brazil – and also threatens regional stability.
Meanwhile, the European Commission welcomed the decision by Spain and Veneuzela to normalize diplomatic ties three months after a rupture in relations that saw Spain expel the Venezuelan ambassador in response to Caracas having declared the Spanish ambassador persona non grata.
"From the European Union side, we continue our ongoing contacts with the interlocutors in Venezuela including the government, the National Assembly as well as regional partners," said Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela, a spokesman for the commission.