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Embargo on Russian oil in the EU: the difficult discussions continue

The ambassadors of the Twenty-Seven in Brussels met on Sunday May 8 without yet managing to agree on the implementation of the sixth package of sanctions against Moscow presented on Wednesday May 5 by the European Commission. This project provides for an embargo on Russian oil by the end of the year, the implementation of which raises major problems for certain member countries. “Contacts at all levels will continue at the beginning of the week with the aim of reaching a full agreement on this sixth package as soon as possible,” said a European diplomat. The European Council “is united on the need to adopt” these measures. “Very significant progress has been made on most” of them, he said.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose country depends heavily on Russia for its energy supply, hardened his tone on Friday morning, saying that Brussels’ proposal “undermined” the unity of the European Union. The unanimity of the Twenty-Seven is required for the adoption of sanctions. “There is no political blockage, but the need to guarantee alternative sources of supply to landlocked countries dependent on Russian oil by pipeline. And it is not easy,” assured the diplomat interviewed by the AFP.

“If it takes another day, it will take another day,” says Ursula von der Leyen.

“These are new infrastructures and changes in technology, which not only require European funding, but also agreements between several Member States. We are making progress, but that mechanically takes a little time”, he added. The proposal submitted to the Twenty-Seven on Wednesday provides for a halt in imports of Russian crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of 2022.

A one-year derogation until the end of 2023 was planned for Hungary and Slovakia, but it was deemed insufficient. It has been extended until the end of 2024 in a new version of the project discussed on Friday and the Czech Republic is also granted this possibility, according to concordant sources. Political unity on oil is “guaranteed” but “it takes time to resolve the problems of certain member states”, confirmed another diplomat.

The objective of the Europeans was initially an entry into force of the sixth set of sanctions for the celebration of the 72nd day of Europe on May 9. This date is also celebrated in Russia as “Victory Day” over Nazi Germany. The head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell announced on Friday that, if no agreement was reached over the weekend, he would convene an extraordinary meeting of EU foreign ministers “next week”, after the “day of Europe” on May 9. “I am convinced that we will adopt this package. If it takes one more day, it will take one more day,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

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