EU's 14th package of Russia sanctions held up by Germany, diplomats say

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union failed on Friday to agree a 14th package of sanctions against Russia, EU diplomats said, as Germany held out over the extent to which EU companies would be responsible for sanctions violations.

Officials from the 27 EU countries have been debating for more than a month on a package including a ban on Russian LNG trans-shipments and a plan to make EU operators responsible for sanctions violations by subsidiaries and partners in third countries.

Ambassadors were set to discuss and decide on the issue on Friday evening, but the sanctions topic was withdrawn from the meeting agenda at the last moment. The ambassadors are next due to meet on Wednesday.

The late Friday meeting had been meant to reach an agreement before a Ukraine peace conference in Switzerland this weekend.

Hungary, Russia's closest EU ally, was previously holding out, but appeared willing to accept the sanctions package, which requires EU unanimity.

However, EU diplomats said that Germany expressed reservations about the impact on its industry of the clause on third country subsidiaries and partners.

Under the sanctions package, the EU was also set to ban from its ports ships that have contributed to Russia's war effort.

This could include the transport of goods generating significant revenue for Russia, goods or technology used in the defence and security sector or shipment of fuels outside the G7 price cap system.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop, Jan Strupczewski and Julia Payne; Editing by Andrew Heavens)