Top European Union diplomats are meeting Monday in a last-ditch attempt to agree on Russian oil import sanctions before their leaders meet later in the day to avoid a spectacle of disagreement over the bloc’s response to the war in Ukraine.
U foreign policy chief Josep Borrell expressed hope ahead of the two-day summit in Brussels, where leaders from the 27 countries will deliver few concrete results if the impasse over an oil embargo brings a broader package of sanctions to the table.
“I think that this afternoon we can offer the heads of state and government of the member states an agreement,” Borrell told France Info.
The ambassadors failed to agree on Sunday on a proposal that would ban Russian oil shipments by sea to EU countries by the end of this year but would exempt oil delivered through a pipeline linking landlocked Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic supplied.
EU leaders will declare their continued support for Ukraine to help it fend off the Russian attack and will discuss how to deal with the aftermath of the conflict, particularly the rise in energy prices and a upcoming food crisis.
However, the talks are overshadowed by their months-long struggle to reach an agreement on a sixth round of sanctions against Moscow.
“After Russia’s attack on Ukraine, we saw what can happen if Europe stands together,” said Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck on Sunday. “Hopefully things will continue like this tomorrow with a view of the summit. But it’s already starting to crumble and crumble again.”
Other elements of the latest sanctions package include blocking Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, from the SWIFT messaging system, banning Russian broadcasters from the EU and adding more people to a list whose assets are frozen.
The most tangible result of the summit will be agreement on a package of EU loans worth €9 billion.
Funding will be decided later.
Leaders will also support the establishment of an international fund to help Ukraine post-war reconstruction, details to be decided later, and freeze the legally strained issue of the seizure, according to a draft of the summit conclusions seen by Reuters Russian assets address this purpose.
Leaders will pledge to expedite work to help Ukraine get its grain by rail and truck out of the country to global buyers as the Russian Navy blocks usual sea routes, and to take steps to to become independent of Russian energy more quickly.
The draft indicated that leaders would explore ways to curb rising energy prices, including the possibility of introducing temporary price caps, cutting red tape in rolling out renewable energy sources and investing in cross-border interconnection of national energy grids to better help one another.
https://www.independent.ie/business/world/eu-makes-eleventh-hour-push-to-agree-on-russian-oil-sanctions-41702196.html The EU has been pushing for a deal on Russian oil sanctions in the last hour