Media reports say the EU is to appoint a sanctions envoy to push for tighter enforcement of its penalties in countries including Turkiye, as the bloc seeks to crack down on circumvention of its measures against Russia.

The Financial Times (FT) says that according to people familiar with the process, Mr. David O’Sullivan, a former EU Ambassador to the US, has been asked to fill the new post from January.

The commission is reportedly expected to confirm on the appointment today.  According to the Financial Times, it comes as the EU, US and other allies focus on closing loopholes in their sanctions against Russia.

Countries that the EU is focusing on include Turkiye, which has declined to follow the EU penalties taken against the Kremlin.

Financial services commissioner Mairead McGuinness visited Turkiye in October in a bid to push the country to do more to bring the private sector into compliance with EU sanctions.  Other countries including Serbia and the United Arab Emirates were also under scrutiny, said the senior EU official, according to the Financial Times

The drive reportedly comes as the EU debates ways of centralizing and streamlining its sanctions regime, which has become an increasingly important foreign policy tool.  Enforcement is in the hands of individual member states and new penalties can only be brought into force with the unanimous agreement of EU capitals.

The new EU role will partly mirror that of the US’s head of sanctions coordination, Jim O’Brien, whose job entails fostering collaboration with US allies on penalties.

The decision comes as the EU prepares to push through its ninth package of sanctions on Russia, which will include restrictions on investments in Russian mining as well as a swath of new penalties on companies and individuals.  The new measures will include export controls on key chemicals, nerve agents, electronics and IT components that could be used by the Russian military. They will also seek to ban exports of drone engines to Russia.