July 06
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 The European Union is unlikely to approve a ban on Russian oil imports at a meeting of leaders next week as Hungary continues to oppose the measure, Bloomberg reported, citing sources.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said a few weeks earlier that a deal on the oil embargo would require a summit of European leaders, but now his government is signaling that any progress is likely not until next month.

The EU has been deadlocked for weeks over a European Commission proposal to phase out Russian oil by early 2023 as part of a sixth round of sanctions.

Seeking to break the deadlock, the bloc's executive body offered Hungary and Slovakia a phase-out by the end of 2024, and the Czech Republic by June of that year. Budapest indicated that modernization of its oil industry would require at least 770 million euros, including investments in infrastructure in Croatia, as well as an unspecified amount of additional funds to adapt to potential gas price hikes.

The Commission, as part of a broader strategy, has identified infrastructure investment needs of up to 2 billion euros, but even this potential investment has not yet got off the ground.

Negotiations between the commission and Hungary are ongoing and could lead to a breakthrough before the leaders meet for a two-day summit in Brussels next week.

Hungary reiterated its oil demands at a closed ministerial meeting in Brussels on Monday, calling first for decisions and then for sanctions. The issue is likely to eclipse and poison next week's summit, the official said.

According to another source, Budapest's stance appears to be hardening rather than softening.

Hungarian Justice Minister told reporters that Hungary needs to develop a long-term strategy that includes investments in terminals and pipelines in other member countries.

Some member states have proposed removing oil from the sanctions package, which also includes proposals to remove more banks from the SWIFT international payment system, a ban on providing advisory services to Russian entities, restrictions on EU property purchases, and adding more people to the bloc's sanctions list.

Others suggested that the other 26 EU members might agree to an oil ban outside the bloc and without Hungary's involvement.

One source said the concern about such ideas is that they could further weaken the package and lead other member states to seek exemptions. A proposal to ban tankers from carrying Russian oil to third countries anywhere in the world was dropped earlier this month after Greece opposed the provision.

Hungary has some of the lowest fuel prices in Europe thanks to price caps made possible in large part by government subsidies and cheap supplies from Russia.

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