EU rewrites oil ban to give Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic more time – POLITICO

The European Commission has proposed a revised plan to sanction Vladimir Putin’s lucrative oil industry to give some bloc countries more time to prepare for life without Russia’s fuel imports.

But while the new plans give countries an even longer extension before an import ban on Russian oil comes into effect, no green light was in sight as of Friday night.

“Hungary is negotiating hard and will try to get the maximum out of it,” said an EU diplomat. “I believe there is room for compromise, but Hungary should not overdo it.”

But although Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been vocal in his opposition to the current package, calling it a “nuclear bomb” for his economy, the Hungarian envoy’s stance in the room with his 26 counterparts has been constructive, an EU diplomat said.

According to plans seen by POLITICO and presented to diplomats on Friday, Hungary and Slovakia would have until the end of 2024 – an extra year on top of the original schedule – to comply with the ban.

The Czech Republic, which also raised concerns about the timeline proposed by Ursula von der Leyen earlier this week, will have until the end of June 2024, according to the Commission’s latest draft.

Hungary and Slovakia had warned that unless they were given more time to adjust, the economic damage from cutting off Russian oil supplies would be too severe. Slovakia said it needs at least until the end of 2025, while Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called for a five-year delay.

But such a long period would be unacceptable for some capitals, said an EU diplomat from a more hawkish country. “It’s a joke, I hope,” said the diplomat. “Five years is impossible. Sorry, but no.”

Targeting Putin’s oil industry is seen as crucial in an attempt to limit a key revenue stream that is helping fund his invasion of Ukraine.

As the debate over details continues, negotiations between EU countries are expected to continue on Saturday and could even drag on until Sunday.

This story has been updated. EU rewrites oil ban to give Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic more time - POLITICO

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