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EU battling for consensus on Russia oil embargo

May 16, 2022

Hungary is leading opposition to the oil embargo being discussed in a foreign ministers' meeting of the 27-member union. All member states must agree on the embargo for it to come into effect.

An oil tank battery at the Novokuibyshevsk Refinery in Russia
The EU hopes an oil embargo could further pressure Russia's economyImage: Yegor Aleyev/TASS/dpa/picture alliance

European Union members are struggling to agree on a sixth package of sanctions against Russia, as a small group led by Hungary oppose including an oil embargo.

The European Commission had proposed the ban on Russian oil imports on May 4, in an effort to increase economic pressure on Russia. Countries such as Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia were given more time to phase out their heavy reliance on Russian oil.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell stressed in statements on the sidelines of Monday's meeting that some union members "face more difficulties because they are more dependent, because they are landlocked".

"We will do our best in order to deblock the situation," the AP quoted Borrell as saying, as he prepared to chair a foreign ministers meeting. "I cannot ensure that it is going to happen because positions are quite strong."

European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell attends a news conference following a meeting with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia February 5, 2021.
Borell has vowed to do his best to help the union reach consensusImage: Russian Foreign Ministry/REUTERS

In order to implement a Russian oil ban, all 27 EU members would need to support the policy.

EU 'held hostage by one member' — Lithuanian FM

Some members strongly opposed Hungary's stance. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said "the whole union is being held hostage by one member state". and felt the phase out period Hungary and other countries were offered was sufficient.

Ursula von der Leyen: 'We will propose to ban all Russian oil'

Hungary has demanded financial aid and more time to implement the embargo.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is also attending talks and has stressed the importance of including the oil ban in the latest round of sanctions, warning that the bloc would be giving Russia cause for celebration if it did not reach agreement. 

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said he expected consensus "in the next days". Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn also expressed confidence that the new sanction package would be imposed, but added that the bloc "needs more time."

rmt/kb (dpa, AP, Reuters)


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