Following a nonbinding vote in the EU Parliament to recognize Juan Guaido last week, foreign ministers from the various EU countries discussed officially recognizing the leader Venezuela's opposition-dominated National Assembly as the true legitimate leader of the struggling socialist-dominated dictatorship.
But one dissenting member managed to block the statement, which was supposed to be delivered by EU Foreign Affairs Secretary Federica Mogherini.
Hours after four EU members officially recognized Guaido, RT reported that Italy managed to stymie a bloc-wide recognition of Guaido, citing a source from within M5S, one of two parties running Italy as part of a ruling populist coalition. BBG reported that other Eastern European nations also refused to back the proposal to recognize Guaido.
Italy announced the veto at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers that started on January 31 in Romania, the source said. The statement, which was supposed to be delivered by EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini recognized Guaido as interim president if snap elections were not held.
The parliament urged the EU to follow suit but the effort stalled due to internal discord. A range of European nations have separately recognized the opposition chief as Venezuela’s acting president, including the UK, France, Sweden, Spain, and Austria. The coordinated move came after an eight-day deadline for Maduro to call presidential elections expired on Monday.
Austria, the Netherlands and Poland have also said they would recognize Guaido this week.
While the US has pledged its "full support" of Guaido, Russia, China, Iran and Turkey have all denounced this meddling in Venezuelan affairs and have continued to back Maduro.
Maduro rejected an ultimatum, delivered by the four EU members who recognized his rival on Monday, to call for democratic elections or lose their support. However, he did offer a small "concession" by suggesting that elections for the assembly be held earlier than 2020, saying that the assembly - the locus of opposition to Maduro's rule - must be "re-legitimized."
Despite widespread popular unrest in the wake of Guaido's decision to declare himself the legitimate ruler of Venezuela late last month, Maduro has retained the loyalty of the military (give or take a few defections).