The 28-member bloc on Monday accused the government in Caracas of “undermining democracy” in the country and extended restrictive measures against Venezuela until next November.
"In light of the ongoing political, economic, social and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela with persistent actions undermining democracy, the rule of law and the respect for human rights, the Council today extended the restrictive measures against Venezuela for one year, until 14 November 2020," the European Council said in a statement.
EU foreign ministers said the measures include an embargo on arms and on military equipment as well as a travel ban and an asset freeze on 25 listed Venezuelan individuals in official positions.
"These measures are intended to help encourage democratic shared solutions in order to bring political stability to the country and allow it to address the pressing needs of the population," the statement added.
Brussels imposed the arms embargo on Caracas in November 2017 and has added various officials to the sanctions list since then.
The European move came less than a week after Washington slapped new sanctions on five more Venezuelan officials as part of a "maximum pressure" campaign aimed at forcing the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro to resign.
Venezuela has been shaken by political unrest since January, when opposition politician and president of the defunct National Assembly Juan Guaido abruptly declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela, challenging the outcome of last year’s presidential election, in which Maduro emerged victorious.
Washington immediately recognized that self-proclamation. Ever since, the US has been escalating tensions against oil-rich Venezuela, and has not ruled out the military option to take out Maduro’s government.
The UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, has criticized Washington’s sanctions, saying the restrictive measures are “likely to significantly exacerbate the crisis for millions of ordinary Venezuelans.”
Venezuelans are suffering from a lack of basic necessities under the US sanctions. According to UN statistics, a quarter of Venezuela’s 30-million-strong population is in need of humanitarian aid. At least 3.3 million people have left the country since the end of 2015, the data shows.
EU agrees sanctions on Turkey over Cyprus drilling
European foreign ministers also agreed at their meeting on Monday to impose economic sanctions on Turkey over its drilling off the coast of Cyprus.
The EU said the decision aims to punish Ankara for violating Cyprus' maritime economic zone by "illegal" drilling activities off the divided island.
Turkey, denying any violation, says it is operating in waters on its own continental shelf or areas where Turkish Cypriots have rights.
EU ministers said in a statement that the measure "will make it possible to sanction individuals or entities responsible for or involved in unauthorized drilling activities of hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean."
The island has been divided into Turkish Cypriot-controlled northern and Greek Cypriot-controlled southern territories since a brief war in 1974, which saw Turkey intervene militarily in response to a military coup on the island that was backed by the Athens government to annex Cyprus to Greece.
Greek Cypriots run the island’s internationally recognized government, while Turkish Cypriots have a breakaway state in the north — only recognized by Turkey.
Turkey, which does not have diplomatic ties with the Greek Cyprus, has vowed to prevent what it sees as a unilateral move by Greek Cypriots to claim offshore resources. It says some areas of Cyprus’s offshore maritime zone fall under what Ankara calls the territory of the Turkish Cyprus.