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The European Union hopes it will reach this month a unanimous agreement on placing an embargo on Russian oil imports, EU diplomats and officials told Reuters on Friday.
A week after the European Commission officially proposed a full ban on Russian crude and oil product imports, to come into effect by the end of the year, the EU is still scrambling to find a common position, trying to persuade Hungary and some other central and eastern European countries to drop their opposition to an embargo.
“We made progress, but further work is needed,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said late on Monday following a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
EU diplomats and officials are optimistic an agreement among EU member states will be reached as soon as this month, and possibly as soon as next Monday, when the foreign ministers of the EU meet in Brussels, a senior diplomat told Reuters.
“This is going to be decided at the highest political level, between Budapest and Brussels. I am optimistic,” another senior diplomat told Reuters, noting that an EU deal on a Russian oil embargo could be reached later next week.
A third senior EU diplomat told Reuters that there would be a deal, and that the EU’s offers to support investments and upgrades for countries heavily reliant on Russian oil could be flexible.
Earlier this week, Hungary – whose PM Orban has said that an oil ban would be like “dropping a nuclear bomb on the Hungarian economy” – said that it would not drop its opposition to a Russian embargo unless it receives hundreds of millions of dollars, necessary to replace Russian oil.
“We are expecting such a proposal not only concerning the transformation of our refineries which costs hundreds of millions of dollars, not only relating to the capacity increase at the Croatian pipeline which would cost several hundreds of millions of dollars, but also concerning the future of the Hungarian economy,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said, as quoted by Reuters.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com