The EU countries most dependent on Russian oil ask for more time to adapt to the potential embargo

Hungary warns that it will not support the proposal as it stands and Slovakia and the Czech Republic ask for broader transitions


The proposal by the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, to include the veto on Russian oil in the next package of sanctions against Russia has generated doubts in countries such as Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which are calling for specific measures and, in generally more time to adjust to the potential embargo.

“Let’s be clear, it will not be easy,” said Von der Leyen, assuming the complications of applying sanctions that, in any case, will not be immediate. Brussels proposes a transition until the end of the year, in an initial idea that would not be set in stone.

The European plan depends on the consensus of the Member States and the Hungarian government has already hinted that, as it is written today, it will not support it. “Being responsible, we cannot support this version of the Brussels sanctions package,” Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto acknowledged in a video posted on Facebook.

Szijjarto has pointed out that the European plan would “destroy” the energy security of Hungary, a country that receives more than 60 percent of its oil from Russia, in line with what Viktor Orbán’s Executive spokesman, Zoltan Kovacs, has also said.

“We do not see plans in the current proposal to manage a transition period or how Hungary’s energy security would be guaranteed,” Kovacs said. The Hungarian Executive, however, has avoided counteroffering with more deadlines to Von der Leyen’s roadmap.

However, the Government of Slovakia has done so, and although it has given its support to the new package of sanctions, it has requested a longer transition period. The Minister of Economy, Richard Sulik, has asked that the Slovak requests not be compared with the Hungarian ones and has denied that they want an indefinite exemption, but he has indicated that the transition phase should last three years, according to statements to the media collected by the daily ‘Pravda’.

Sulik has appealed to European “solidarity” to allow Slovakia to “adapt” to the new situation. Stop depending on Russian oil will cost Slovakia about 160 million euros, according to estimates by the Executive.

For his part, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Petr Fiala, has acknowledged the reservations of his Executive with the application of the new punishments and has planned in statements to the media a phase of two or even three years before to be able to build new oil pipelines , according to Czech public television.


The embargo will affect both oil transported by sea and through pipelines, whether crude or refined, although the system designed by Brussels for the end of crude oil imports is “progressive”, so that the disconnection of crude oil is in six months and the of refined products “at the end of the year”.

Von der Leyen has not given more details of the content of the proposal, but the Bloomberg agency has specified that in the case of Hungary and Slovakia they would be allowed a longer transition period, until the end of 2023.

Despite the problems of some partners with the times for the disconnection of Russian oil, European sources pointed out that there was broad support for the Commission’s text in the first debate at ambassadorial level this Wednesday, although its development is “complex “and requires continuing technical negotiation. The objective is an agreement before the end of the week.

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