Oil sanctions proposal underlines EU unity, says Orban
Hungary prime minister opposes plan to ban Russian oil by end of the year
Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the EU is at risk of fracturing its unified front against Moscow if it tries to push through its latest proposal to ban Russian oil by the end of the year.
“If the commission insists on the adoption of its proposal, it will have to bear full responsibility for a historical failure in the court of European integration,” Orban wrote in a letter to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen seen by Bloomberg.
The commission this week proposed a sixth package of sanctions that would include a “complete ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined,” Von der Leyen said earlier this week. The new measures would grant Hungary and Slovakia, which are heavily reliant on Russian energy, until the end of 2023 to comply with the ban.
EU member nations were expected to continue debating the proposal on Friday. Approval requires unanimous backing from all 27 countries.
“The sanctions would require diverting necessary national resources to redundant fossil investments while relevant funding from the EU for us is only available on paper,” according to the letter.
Cabinet minister Gergely Gulyas said on Thursday that Hungary would veto the current proposal. Slovakia energy minister Richard Sulik told reporters on Wednesday that it would seek a longer, three-year exemption.
“The most important asset of the European Union in reacting to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has been our unity so far,” Orban wrote in the May 5 letter. “The sixth package of sanctions in its current form undermines this unity.”
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