EU Reaches Compromise on Russian Oil Ban
After lengthy negotiations, the EU heads of state and government have agreed on a partial embargo on Russian oil. It is intended to apply to a large proportion of imports by ship.
Since Russia attacked Ukraine at the end of February, the 27 heads of state and government have agreed on five sanctions packages. United – without major contradictions from individual member states. However, when it came to oil, there was opposition, particularly from Hungary.
“It’s not child’s play. It’s very serious. That means we first need the solutions and then the sanctions,” said Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban shortly before the start of the negotiations on Monday afternoon. The solution to the tricky equation is as follows: The import of Russian oil that reaches the EU by sea is banned – that’s around two-thirds of the total quantity. Countries like Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia may continue to receive oil from the Druzhba pipeline. It should also be forbidden to insure Russian ships. During the night, EU Council President Charles Michel was visibly trying to regain the lost unity, at least verbally: “It’s not a decision purely for Hungary. We’ve considered the situation of the countries that don’t have access to the sea. And that’s more countries than just Hungary.”
Germany and Poland also supplied via the Druzhba pipeline, agreed to stop sourcing oil from it by the end of the year. This would then import ten per cent of Russian oil into the EU, according to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Possible solutions have already been discussed here: The Croatian Adriatic pipeline should increase its capacities within the next 60 days in order to also supply Hungary. According to von der Leyen, investments are needed. “Hungary’s refineries also need an update because Russian oil is different from oil from the Adriatic pipeline,” she explained.
Whether and how much financial support Hungary receives from EU pots was left open by both von der Leyen and Council President Michel. It is clear that Hungary was able to obtain guarantees if the Druzhba pipeline failed as the war progressed. The EU ambassadors now have the task of converting the political agreement into a set of rules, probably by Wednesday.
Image by European People’s Party (Flickr)/Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)