EU oil embargo is approaching – Orbán rants: ‘A nuclear bomb for the Hungarian economy’

Updated on 05/06/2022 at 16:18

  • The details of the sixth sanctions package against Russia are being worked out in Brussels.
  • A new compromise proposal is on the table: Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia would thus benefit from a longer transition period.
  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is always very critical.

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Germany has signaled its approval for some EU countries to have longer transition periods for the planned oil embargo against Russia. On Friday in Brussels, member states’ permanent representatives discussed a compromise proposal from the European Commission that would give Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic more time to fully implement the halt in deliveries. According to diplomats, the talks on this subject should last until the weekend. The sanctions are a reaction to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

A government spokeswoman said Chancellor Olaf Scholz had stressed that any kind of embargo should hit Russia harder than Germany or EU partners. It is from this angle that the discussions on exceptions or extensions must be seen. The fact is that these countries would be supported to become as quickly as possible independent of Russian oil and gas in the medium term.

Longer deadlines for Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia

This week, the Commission proposed to Member States a sixth package of sanctions against Russia. It stipulated that Slovakia and Hungary could still buy Russian oil until the end of 2023, as they are particularly dependent on supply.

All other countries are expected to stop oil shipments in six months and purchases of petroleum products such as diesel and kerosene in eight months. The planned punitive measures are intended to exert additional pressure on Russia. It is estimated that Moscow earns hundreds of millions of euros a day from oil sales to EU countries.

However, the Commission’s proposal has been criticized by several countries. Friday’s compromise proposal provides for giving Hungary and Slovakia until the end of 2024 to stop their oil purchases from Russia, the German press agency has learned from diplomats.

The Czech Republic could therefore have until June 2024. In the event that the expansion of new delivery routes – such as a better connection to the transalpine pipeline – succeeds sooner, the embargo for Prague could apply sooner. . Proposals are subject to change during negotiations.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it was not easy to reach an agreement and quickly apply the embargo. Member States are differently prepared for such an approach. “I’m confident we’ll have that package on the way as well. If it takes another day, it just takes another day.”

Orbán compares the embargo proposal to a “nuclear bomb”

One of the most vocal critics is Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. “It is equivalent to dropping an atomic bomb on the Hungarian economy,” the right-wing politician told state radio of the proposal. “According to our own calculations, we need five years for the conversion (to oil without Russian imports). A delay of a year or a year and a half does not help.”

Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are heavily dependent on Russian oil, which is supplied entirely by the Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline. According to the national statistics authority, the Czech Republic covered around half of its oil consumption from Russian sources in 2021. In Hungary, according to the government, 65% comes from Russia. According to the national operating company Transpetrol, Russia is the only source of oil for Slovakia. According to the European Commission, however, deliveries to these countries represent only a very small proportion of total Russian oil imports from the EU.

For the sanctions package to be implemented, all countries must agree. According to diplomats, the aim is to adopt the sanctions package by the weekend. (hub/dpa)

The EU wants to dissociate itself from Russian oil – but according to Economy Minister Habeck, this could lead to a lack of fuel in parts of Germany.

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