The EU can offer Hungary more time and money to agree to an oil ban in Russia

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The European Union is considering allocating more time and money to Hungary to adapt to the Russian oil embargo after talks on Brussels’ plans to impose sanctions are “delayed,” the bloc’s foreign minister said.

Josep BarrelThe High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy told the Financial Times that he understood why Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic were opposed to the European Commission’s plans for a sixth package of EU sanctions against Moscow. Three countries are counting on Druzhba oil pipeline. brings heavy oil from Russia.

“I understand their position. If I were in their shoes, I would say, “Look, I have a problem.” This is not a bad will, ”Borel said of Budapest’s objections. “It’s a matter of time, and it’s a matter of money. We cannot put on the table proposals that do not correspond to reality. “

Diplomats expect all three countries to have more time to wean themselves off Russian oil in new proposals by the EU’s executive committee on Friday. While most countries would have to ban Russian oil within six months, Hungary and Slovakia would have until the end of 2024. The Czech Republic will be offered until June 2024, which should satisfy Prague.

Barrel added that the ambassadors of the EU member states in Brussels will be given a day off to reach an agreement, but if the stalemate remains, he proposes to refer the matter to European foreign ministers.

Barrel said they faced an “objective problem” and that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was not just trying to create problems.

“It’s not because Hungary is closer to Moscow,” he said. “We have to take into account the specific situation of each country. Hungary is a landlocked country. There is no other pipe that delivers oil to Hungary, except the one that comes from Russia and goes directly to their refinery, which is designed for the physical characteristics of Russian oil.

The things that could be changed in the package are time and money, he said.

“How much does it cost to prepare this refinery for refining another type of oil?” The money is not on the table, but I would not be surprised if someone said that “to process another type of oil I need to make large investments.”

Barrel said it would be better to find a deal and move forward faster, as these countries accounted for only a small part of the EU’s demand for oil from Russia. “It’s not an important part of the cake in terms of volume.”

Barrel also said that Greece is concerned about the proposed ban on the transportation of Russian oil because it has a large tanker fleet. Their argument, he said, was: “If I don’t do this, someone else will, so I will lose my business without harming Russia.” But if we allow our boats to transport Russian oil elsewhere, it doesn’t look very nice. This is a purely political situation. “

According to him, the EU ban on Russian gas, which accounts for 40 percent of EU demand, remains short-lived because it is vital for many industries, including petrochemical.

Germany has not yet had the opportunity to import liquefied natural gas as an alternative.

“This problem can be solved and will be solved, but it will not be solved in one day,” Barrel said.

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