EU tensions grow over Russian oil ban as Hungary demands exemption – POLITICO

The European Commission is dealing with a backlash in opposition to plans to ship funding to Hungary as a part of an effort to steer Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to conform to EU sanctions on Russian oil.

At a gathering of senior diplomats in Brussels on Wednesday, a number of EU international locations raised considerations a few plan to supply Hungary compensation — first reported by POLITICO — as a part of a forthcoming vitality technique, diplomats stated.

The dispute displays the increasing difficulties confronting officers in Brussels as they search to ratchet up stress on Moscow over the battle in Ukraine.

Orbán’s authorities on Wednesday hardened its opposition to the EU’s proposal for a full ban on importing Russian crude and refined fuels, calling for an exemption for oil equipped by pipeline.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó stated in a Facebook video on Wednesday that the embargo must be restricted to grease equipped by ship and must exclude the pipeline on which Hungary depends.

One week since European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen introduced her blueprint for a sixth bundle of Russia sanctions, the bloc is not any nearer to signing off on the plan.

Despite providing extra time to Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to adjust to the ban on oil imports, Budapest continues to carry up a deal. Banning oil from Russia can be devastating to Hungary’s economic system, Orbán has stated. The disaster can be an opportunity for the not too long ago re-elected Hungarian premier to claim his affect.

Von der Leyen desires to focus on Vladimir Putin’s oil exports as a method of shutting off an important supply of funding for the Kremlin’s battle in Ukraine.

Talks between von der Leyen and Orbán on Monday ended with out a deal, and a follow-up videoconference between the Commission and regional gamers, which was attributable to focus on cooperation on oil infrastructure, has not been scheduled but.

The assembly of EU ambassadors on Wednesday resulted in no extra readability on the timing of any settlement, the diplomats stated. One motive for the delay is that the sanctions bundle is ready to be linked to the forthcoming REPowerEU technique for ending the bloc’s reliance on Russian fossil fuels, attributable to be revealed on May 18.

Under the vitality plan, financing and infrastructure reforms are prone to be thought-about to assist these international locations — corresponding to Hungary — which face the best difficulties transferring away from Russian oil and fuel.

Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell on Tuesday stated he hoped that the “difficulties shall be raised” by subsequent week, earlier than the EU overseas affairs ministers meet on Monday. If not, Borrell stated it’s as much as overseas affairs ministers to debate the bundle.

Jacopo Barigazzi contributed reporting.

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