European Commission Weakens Russia Oil Sanctions Proposal

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The European Commission wants to give Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic more time to implement the proposed import ban on Russian oil. With this, the committee hopes to break free of the tense negotiations between the 27 EU member states about the new sanctions package for Russia.

 

Since Friday morning, the EU ambassadors in Brussels have been back together after having previously sent the daily EU administration back to the drafting table. Many Member States are critical, not just of the proposed total boycott of crude oil within six months and of refined oil by the end of the year.

According to EU sources, Hungary and Slovakia will receive a postponement until the end of 2024, the Czech Republic until June 2024. The original package offered them an extra year to implement the ban. However, Bulgaria, which has now also asked for a postponement, would not get its way under the new proposal.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán calls the intended Russian oil boycott a “nuclear bomb” on the Hungarian economy. He is demanding a five-year extension. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala has said the proposals are “going in the right direction, but discussions are still ongoing,” according to CTK news agency.

On Friday, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said he would convene foreign ministers for an emergency meeting next week if their ambassadors cannot agree this weekend. According to a spokesman for the European Commission, a quick decision on new sanctions against Russia because of the war in Ukraine is needed. Most EU countries want to eliminate their energy dependence on Russia as soon as possible.

The commission also addresses concerns expressed by several member states about the proposed ban on transporting Russian oil services. In particular, Greece and Malta and Cyprus fear that their shipping companies will be disproportionately affected and are now given three months longer to prepare for this.

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