Russian oil embargo: Tough EU talks continue

Difficult negotiations between the 27 EU member states continue on Sunday to remove obstacles to the planned European embargo on Russian oil, which has been blocked by several member states including Hungary.

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The Twenty-Seven ambassadors in Brussels are due to meet “at noon”, a European diplomat told AFP.

On Friday, they failed to reach an agreement on how to implement the 6th package of sanctions against Moscow, presented by the European Commission on Wednesday. This project envisages an embargo on Russian oil until the end of the year, the implementation of which poses major problems for some member countries.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose country is heavily dependent on Russia for energy, sharpened his tone on Friday morning, saying the Brussels proposal undermines the unity of the European Union.

The unanimity of the Twenty-Seven is required for the passage of sanctions.

“There is no political blockade, but the need to guarantee landlocked countries dependent on Russian oil alternative sources of supply via pipeline. And it’s not easy,” assured a European diplomat.

“These are new infrastructures and technological changes that require not only European funding, but agreements between several member states. We’re moving forward, but mechanically it’s taking a little time,” he added.

The proposal, presented to member states on Wednesday, calls for a halt to 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 was deemed insufficient. In a new version of the project discussed on Friday, it was extended until the end of 2024, and the Czech Republic will also be given the opportunity, according to sources.

The work continues “to respond to concerns about the security of supply of certain countries”, it is about “finding solidarity mechanisms, pragmatic solutions and alternatives, that’s not a political problem,” confirms another diplomat.

The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, announced on Friday that he would convene an extraordinary meeting of EU foreign ministers “next week” after “Europe Day” on May 9 if no agreement was reached over the weekend.

“I am convinced that we will adopt this package. If it takes another day, it takes another day,” said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

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