EU finalizes sanctions on Russian oil this year, but only with partial further exemptions


27 Celebrate a political settlement in the absence of technical details. Hungary, after being blocked for weeks, will keep the flow through the Druzhba pipeline

extraction plant
oil extraction plantEFE
  • war in ukraine Gazprom cuts gas supply to the Netherlands

There is an agreement and there will be a ban on Russian oil, but although the agreement is on 27, there will be no practical application. heads of state and 27 have celebrated this Monday political understanding at the highest levelBut the exact details are yet to be finalized and only one thing is clear: it will not affect everyone, or even all, equally, and Moscow will continue to get money for its crude oil after 2023, Very little, but something nonetheless.

During the weekend, the slogan of all capitals was to reiterate that “there was no division”, that relations between the 27 EU members were good and that the sixth package of sanctions against Russia, which should ban imports of oil, was almost stopped. After a hiatus of more than a month, which contained nothing more than “technical issues”. The bloc wanted to explain this and perhaps convince itself that there was no veto, despite the fact that for weeks Hungary has repeatedly said no and continues to do so. But on Monday the twist started coming in the story.

First in the morning, diplomats said the findings documents were “very stable” and that it was a matter of days if not hours. from the team Charles Mitchell It was noted that “the European Council will seek to seal a political agreement on the oil embargo”, calling it a “significant achievement for the EU” despite a “temporary exemption to ensure supply”. But the European Commission, from the mouth of its President, Ursula von der Leyen, clarified: “There is little hope that a settlement will be reached in the next 48 hours, but I believe there will be a possibility in the next days.” And to complete, and when the first leaders arrived in Brussels wanted to see the glass half empty, the hero behind the scenes, Viktor Orban, dispelled doubts and balls: “The Battle of Brussels begins”, he posted on his social network. But the challenge came down.

The reality is that the agreement was, and is very close, and the general lines are very clear and only a series of details remain to be outlined, the additional guarantees that Budapest demands in the most unfavorable scenarios. The problem is that there is an agreement, but what is there is no import ban or sanctions on Russian oil, not absolute. This year imports by sea have been cut, which stood at 1.6 million barrels per day last year, two-thirds of the total purchased by the consortium. But not the one that comes out of the ground via the Druzhba pipeline, which accounted for more than 700,000 barrels per day in 2021.

A few weeks ago 27 sealed carbwhat Stop buying from Russia from August 10, And they know gas is a fantasy, it won’t in the short term, despite the fact that the Netherlands has reported supply cuts for not paying in rubles and Denmark expects it this week, after Poland, Bulgaria and others. doing. So he focused on oil, knowing that Hungary did not agree for economic, technical and of course political reasons. “We are basically in a very difficult position because of the irresponsible behavior of the Commission”, attacking the Magyar prime minister, reiterating that “the proposals were not properly negotiated with the member states”. Von der Leyen expected the pressure to push everyone, but he missed.

The initial idea this year was a ban on Russian crude and refined products for six and nine months, respectively. but HungaraNear Slovakia, Bulgaria hey czech republic, They did not agree, They argue that their dependence is too high, and they may not find a solution in a few months. They would need new suppliers, but they would also need to convert their refineries suitable only for Russian crude, which would take time and cost hundreds of millions of euros. The first solution was to give them a longer period until the end of 2024 in the most extreme case. But still not all were satisfied. For weeks they have fought and in the end the only way out is to accept an exception and give a temporary almost complete waiver.

Hungara Oil continued to be received through the pipeline, but even that was not enough. It has sought, and has received, guarantees that if something like this happens, it will continue to get crude the other way round. The idea is not liked, it upsets many partners, beginning with Poland and the Baltic, but the alternative was to promote the 26 without the same force and with the same practical consequences. So they have settled, explaining, as did Dutchman Rutte, that in practice it is to cut Moscow’s funding by two-thirds in just a few months.

Slovakia He is satisfied with the promise of solidarity in terms of cuts, as explained by his prime minister upon arrival. “The European Council agrees that the sixth package of sanctions will include Russian crude oil as well as refined crude oil, coming from Russia, supplied by pipelines, with a temporary exemption,” says the consensus document of the conclusion. That those technical details are quickly resolved. The Council urged the ministers to “Finalization and adoption without delayThis decision, “ensure that there is equal status in the single market and solidarity between states in the event of supply disruptions”, added a reference to the fact that oil reaching Hungary or Slovakia does not end up elsewhere or could be used to unfairly favor their companies to enhance competitiveness.

President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. For unity, for stopping the war machine, for solidarity, but not for personal attacks, aware of this time: “Russia understands only the logic of force. Fights in Europe and divisions must end, because disputes The conscious Russians press hard” he said in his speech.

But that they were not personal does not mean that there were no generals. “Of course, I want you to understand me: I do not blame any of you. The blame for what is happening lies only with the Russian state. But I believe that it is clear to each of you There has to be progress on the sanctions.” for this aggression. And it is very necessary for us (…) Why can Russia still earn about a billion euros a day by selling energy? Why do terrorist banks continue to operate in Europe and with the world financial system? serious question. and “Why are Russian propaganda channels still active in the EU? Why are Russian officials supporting war and judges supporting repression still not approved?” The European Union grants Ukraine the status of a candidate country for future admission.

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