EU moves closer to Russian oil ban, with exceptions
EU Heads of State and Government are due to meet on Monday (30 May) afternoon to discuss the possibility of agreeing in principle to a total eased embargo on Russian oil, as foreseen by European diplomats in the morning.
According to the latest version of the summit’s conclusions, seen by EURACTIV, the leaders could agree on the general framework of the sixth round of sanctions against Moscow on Monday, after having abandoned a complete ban on Russian oil in order to circumvent the threat vetoed by Hungary.
This new section of energy sanctions would therefore concern “crude oil, as well as petroleum-derived products, delivered by Russia to Member States, with a temporary exception for crude oil delivered by pipeline”an indirect allusion to the countries of central Europe which supply themselves with oil by pipeline.
The move follows the failure of EU ambassadors to agree on a compromise plan on Sunday (May 29), which already raised concerns that the final deal may not result in a total ban. originally proposed by the European Commission.
Instead, a political agreement, yet to be adopted by EU leaders, plans to ban only oil transported by sea, with oil transported by pipeline still being supplied to Hungary, Slovakia and to the landlocked Czech Republic, which lobbied for this exemption.
Upon arriving at the EU leaders’ meeting, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told reporters that there was no compromise and “no deal at all” on the oil ban.
He blamed the European Commission for Budapest’s difficulties in approving the sanctions, saying it had not taken Hungary’s energy security into account when drawing up the sanctions and had overstepped the agreement concluded between EU countries to break away from Russian energy as quickly as possible.
The responsibility for the lack of agreement today will rest on the shoulders of the European Commission, Mr Orbán said, adding that the EU should consider “solutions and then sanctions”.
Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš, for his part, called on European leaders to have a ” overview “ of the situation, namely the need to paralyze the Russian economy and support Ukraine.
He also called on European leaders, in remarks very clearly aimed at Hungary, to support an oil ban and a gas ban as soon as possible.
“If every European country thinks only of itself, then we will never move forward”he told reporters.
“Latvia is very heavily dependent — was — on Russian energy imports. We walk away from that and have no problem with that. It will cost us more, but it is only money. Ukrainians pay with their liveshe added.
According to a European diplomat, the Hungarians want to be the only ones to be authorized to import oil by tankers, in particular via Croatia, in case the Druzhba pipeline is damaged by the Ukrainians or the Russians.
The pipeline exemption is a good approach, but it needs a guarantee that if the pipeline through Ukraine is damaged, Hungary will get Russian oil from other sources, Orbán said.
Germany and Poland will pledge to end oil imports by the end of the year, EU diplomats have said.
However, the agreement makes it possible to consider the ban on pipelines at a later stage, underlined several European diplomats.
According to a European diplomat, the objective of Monday morning’s last-minute negotiations was to reach at least a “political agreement” that European leaders could consider, but there would be a “some level of uncertainty” about the possibility that they may not yet agree and come back to the issue.
European leaders are not expected to finalize the terms of the temporary exception, however. Instead, they will instruct EU diplomats and ministers to find a solution that would also ensure fair competition between those who continue to receive Russian oil and those who do not.
According to the draft conclusions, the package must guarantee “a level playing field in the EU single market” as well as “solidarity between Member States in the event of a sudden interruption of supply”.
However, the conclusions do not mention a specific timetable for the temporary exemption of crude oil delivered by pipeline.
They invite Member States to consider the issue ” as soon as possible “which realistically could mean before the next EU summit on June 23-24.
European leaders arriving in Brussels were not optimistic that EU member states could reach a full agreement on new sanctions against Russia at their summit on Monday.
“We have now basically resolved all the issues except one and that is the pipeline crude oil issue, the discussions are still ongoing, so I don’t have too high hopes that we will resolve it in the near future. next 48 hours, but rather later »European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels.
“I don’t think we will reach an agreement today”Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said hours before the start of the meeting, adding that an agreement was more likely to be reached at the next summit in June.
A senior EU official called the compromise proposal “remarkable achievement for the EU”but most European diplomats were less enthusiastic.
In addition to the ban on oil, the sixth round of sanctions includes the withdrawal of Sberbank (one of the largest Russian banks) from the SWIFT banking network, the banning of three other Russian public broadcasters and the establishment of a list of individuals who have committed war crimes in Ukraine.
Separately, several EU diplomats have reported that a planned ban on Russians buying real estate in the EU was dropped after Cyprus objected to it.
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