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9 May 2022


EU: Commission President announces proposal to ban Russian oil imports; Member States yet to agree

"EU’s Russian oil ban stalls as Hungary holds up sanctions", 8 May 2022

Envoys have met multiple times to discuss the EU's sixth package of sanctions against Russia without managing to sign off on the proposals, first publicly announced by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on May 4.

The ongoing difficulties reflect the fact that the measures being lined up — critically a complete ban on imports of Russian crude and refined fuels — will be deeply painful for some countries to absorb. Shutting down the EU market for Russian fossil fuels is seen as a critical strategy for denying Putin the revenue that is helping finance his war in Ukraine.

By April 27, the bloc had imported about €44 billion of fossil fuels from Russia by shipments and pipelines since the invasion began, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

Hungary and Slovakia — both heavily reliant on Russian oil — led the objections to von der Leyen's blueprint last week and, along with the Czech Republic, won concessions from the Commission so they would have more time to comply with the ban...

The European Commission is proposing phasing out Russian crude oil within six months and refined oil by the end of the year. The most recent plans, circulated on Sunday and seen by POLITICO, envisage giving Hungary and Slovakia until the end of 2024, and the Czech Republic until end of June of that year, before the oil embargo kicks in...

The planned oil embargo is not the only point of contention among EU countries. Other disagreements include, for example, whether EU vessels should be banned from transporting Russian oil. This part of the package has been put on hold waiting for some form of coordination at G7-level. The aim is to make sure the measures are effectively targeted against Russia and are watertight so that countries such as China or Turkey do not take advantage of a change in EU rules.

The difficulties are only likely to get worse as the EU ratchets up its sanctions against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, especially when attention turns to switching off supplies of Russian gas...

Part of the following timelines

Ukraine: Global outrage over Russian invasion leads to sanctions, demands for businesses to divest

Ukraine invasion: Companies with interests in Russian oil & gas forced to reassess operations