EU reputation at stake as Hungary continues to block Russia sanctions

(EurActiv, 17 May 2022) The EU has not found consensus on the new sanction package against Russia and an agreement could be still ‘a week or two’ away, EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell said on Monday (17 May), as Hungary said it would not lift its veto.

“Unhappily, it has not been possible to reach an agreement today,” Borrell told reporters after a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers in Brussels.

The EU side has offered Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia long grace periods to phase out Russian oil imports, but that has not yet convinced Budapest to lift its opposition.

The philosophy of EU sanctions is that they should hit the third country, in this case Russia, rather than causing harm tor the member states. But sanctions in the field of energy inevitably cause damage to EU countries, some being hit more than others.

The EU’s Russian energy imports were worth €99 billion in 2021, Russian oil accounting for about 27% of EU oil imports.

Technically, oil imports from Russia are easier to be replaced than gas imports, however rising oil prices already add to inflation across the EU.

“I hope it’s not going to last more, but I cannot tell you if it’s going to take one week or two,” Borrell said, adding that he had initially aimed for ministers to discuss the sanctions package on Monday.

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EurActiv, 17 May 2022: EU reputation at stake as Hungary continues to block Russia sanctions