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European Union can agree Russia oil embargo or seek alternative: Germany

Robert Habeck, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, and Steffi Lemke, Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection, arrive at the meeting of the G7 Ministers for Climate, Energy and the Environment in Berlin, Germany, on May 26.

Robert Habeck, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, and Steffi Lemke, Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection, arrive at the meeting of the G7 Ministers for Climate, Energy and the Environment in Berlin, Germany, on May 26. | Photo Credit: AP

The European Union (EU) can still strike a deal on a Russian oil embargo in the coming days or look to "other instruments" if no agreement is reached, Germany's Economy Minister Robert Habeck said at Group of Seven talks in Berlin on May 26.

The EU executive European Commission proposed the embargo as the harshest sanction yet on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. But talks have failed to produce a breakthrough so far, with Hungary, Moscow's closest ally in the EU, vetoing the move. Mr. Habeck said all EU countries had to reduce their oil dependency.

"That includes Hungary. If you take that as the basis of discussion, then an agreement should be possible. If you include other topics into the question of an oil embargo it will be very, very difficult," he said.

"I know that intensive discussions are ongoing. In five days, we have the next EU Council, I assume that that is the corridor in which either an agreement is reached or one will have to consider other instruments." He did not specify what those other instruments could be.

Mr. Habeck was speaking as G7 Energy, Climate and Environment Ministers were set to wrangle over how to keep climate change goals on track at talks overshadowed by spiralling energy costs and fuel supply problems sparked by the war in Ukraine.

Brussels has already proposed giving Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic more time to impose an embargo, compared with other EU states. The EU also offered up to two billion euros ($2.1 billion) for oil infrastructure to help those countries pivot to non-Russian supplies. ($1 = 0.9363 euros)

Hungary, however, said about 750 million euros would be needed in short-term investments to withstand an embargo, while a total modernisation of its energy system would cost billions.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told the EU not to attempt to agree the oil embargo when EU country leaders meet next week at a summit in Brussels, in a letter seen by Reuters.


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Printable version | May 26, 2022 3:36:41 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/european-union-can-agree-russia-oil-embargo-or-seek-alternative-germany/article65463178.ece