EU starts considering delay in Russian oil sanctions

EU starts considering delay in Russian oil sanctions

Some European Union nations are saying it may be time to consider delaying a push to ban Russian oil so they can proceed with the rest of a proposed sanctions package if the bloc can’t persuade Hungary to back the embargo, Bloomberg reported.

Governments haven’t given up on their aim for a deal with Budapest on the full package, including a phased-in oil ban, by Monday, when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels, according to EU diplomats. 

But the idea of pushing off the move against Russian oil, which Hungary has said would be too damaging to its economy, is gaining support, the diplomats added. Other countries, however, are worried that removing it now would be a sign of weakness, another diplomat said.

Hungary’s Viktor Orban has suggested before that any oil ban would need to be discussed by EU leaders at a summit. The next one is scheduled for the end of May.

The EU’s proposal seeks to ban crude oil over the next six months and refined fuels by early January. The bloc had offered Hungary and Slovakia until the end of 2024 to comply with the sanctions and the Czech Republic until June of the same year since they are heavily reliant on Russian crude.

Hungary hardened its public stance Wednesday, saying it would withdraw its threat to block an embargo only if its imports via pipelines are excluded.

EU sanctions require the unanimous backing of all 27 members.