The European Union is set to give some member states heavily dependent on Russian oil – such as Hungary and Slovakia – time until the end of 2024 to comply with the proposed embargo on oil imports from Russia, as the bloc is looking to keep a united front against Putin and his invasion of Ukraine, sources with knowledge of the discussions told Bloomberg on Friday.
The Czech Republic could also get an exemption until June 2024 under a proposed revision of the oil ban, Bloomberg’s sources said.
The European Commission on Wednesday officially proposed a full ban on Russian crude and oil product imports by the end of this year.
“We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion, in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes and minimises the impact on global markets. This is why we will phase out Russian supply of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the European Parliament on Wednesday.
However, while Germany has recently dropped its opposition to an embargo, EU member states with even higher dependence on Russian oil, including Hungary and Slovakia, have asked for revisions of the Commission’s initial proposal.
Hungary and Slovakia receive Russian crude via the Druzhba oil pipeline, while the Commission’s proposal needs the approval of all 27 EU member states.
Hungary said on Wednesday it cannot support a full block on Russian oil imports, with Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto saying in a Facebook video that such a move would “obliterate” its energy security.
“Hungary can only support these sanctions measures if crude oil carried in pipelines is exempted from the restrictions,” the minister added.
On Friday, while the EU meets for another round of discussions about the details of the oil embargo, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Hungary would not support the Commission’s current proposal and that the country needed five years and huge investments in pipelines and refinery updates in order to phase out Russian oil.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.