The failure of EU member states to agree on a Russian oil embargo indicates that the bloc is reaching the limits of its ability to impose financial sanctions on Moscow, an EU diplomat told Euractiv this week.
“If there was such a mess with Russia’s oil, imagine what would happen with a proposal to ban gas,” the unnamed diplomat was quoted as saying, following the EU foreign ministers meeting on Monday. “The 7th package of sanctions against Moscow will be extremely difficult … We are very close to reaching our limits. What will the 7th package include?”
EU member states have failed to agree on proposals to ban Russian oil imports, after more than 10 days of talks, with Hungary leading a group of countries resisting the measure. The planned embargo on Russian crude was part of the sixth package of sanctions, proposed on May 4, over the Ukraine conflict.
Countries that are highly dependent on Russian oil, including Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Bulgaria, have repeatedly expressed their objections to a ban. The Hungarian government says an embargo would deal a crippling blow to the economy.
The diplomat told Euractiv that although there is progress in talks with Hungary over its veto to Europe’s proposal for an embargo on Russian oil, the atmosphere indicated that “we even took a step back.”
He said that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s stance on the matter puts other governments in a difficult position – if Budapest gets what it wants, it would be hard for others, such as Bulgaria, to explain to people why they did not get similar concessions.
The EU has been divided over how to end its dependence on Russian energy. Experts say that an immediate ban on oil and gas from the continent’s major supplier is impossible.
Europeans are already struggling with spiking inflation and soaring energy and food prices.
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