EU approves Russia coal embargo, but already looks beyond

(EurActiv, 8 Apr 2022) EU member states on Thursday (7 April) green-lighted an embargo on Russian coal and the closing of the bloc’s ports to Russian vessels over Moscow’s war in Ukraine, but attention has already shifted to who may stand in the way of possible future energy sanctions.

An official from the French presidency of the European Council said the latest decision spearheads a “very substantial” fifth round of sanctions against Moscow.

As proposed by the European Commission on Tuesday (5 April), the fifth sanctions package will introduce an embargo on coal from Russia with a four-month grace period to allow for the possibility of current contracts to expire.

It is the first time Europe has targeted the energy sector, on which they are heavily dependent, importing 45% of their coal from Russia at a value of €4 billion a year.

But the embargo will come into force at the beginning of August, 120 days after the publication of the new package in the EU’s official journal, a date that has been a moving target during the discussions.

It was the subject of heated disputes, with especially Poland seeking to shorten this transition period, though unsuccessfully.

The list of Russian products banned from the EU is also being extended to include certain “critical raw materials and equipment” worth an estimated €5.5 billion a year to stop the financing of Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine.

Russian and Belarusian road hauliers are also now banned from operating in the EU.

The sanctions package also includes a €10 billion ban on exports to Russia, including high-tech goods, the freezing of several Russian banks’ assets as well as blacklisting both of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s adult daughters and prominent oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who so far managed to avoid inclusion on the sanction list.

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EurActiv, 8 Apr 2022: EU approves Russia coal embargo, but already looks beyond