The European Commission (EC) has proposed changes to its plan for an embargo on Russian oil. The Czech Republic would get an exemption until mid-2024. Hungary and Slovakia are to get it by the end of the same year.
A modified proposal for new sanctions against Russia, which generally envisages an end to Russian oil imports at the end of this year, began to be discussed by ambassadors of EU member states on Friday morning.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that finding an agreement on unity on oil sanctions was not easy and could take “several days.” Still, she was confident that EU states would eventually reach a deal.
According to the Reuters source mentioned, to persuade states hesitant to support the proposal, the EU executive came up with several other concessions, including support for investment in new oil infrastructure.
Countries with exceptions, namely the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, will not be able to sell Russian oil to other countries.
According to the proposal, all other member states would have to phase out imports by the end of this year, with oil imports to stop within six months and refined oil products within eight months.
Hungary and Slovakia refused to support the EC’s original proposal, envisaged a one-year exemption for these countries, demanding a significantly more extended transition period. The Czech government has also requested time to ensure sufficient supplies flowing through the TAL Transalpine pipeline from southern Europe.
According to Reuters, Friday’s proposal gives it until June 2024. If the pipeline’s capacity can be increased sooner, the embargo will start for the Czech Republic before that date.
The proposal now also envisages European support for investment in new infrastructure or mitigating the economic impact of the embargo. The planned ban on the transport of Russian crude oil by tankers from EU countries, which Greece, in particular, had problems with, is also subject to changes. Instead of the proposed one-month transition period initially, it now provides for three months.