Three weeks have passed since EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen announced her plan to impose an oil embargo on Russia in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. But little has happened in the meantime. This is primarily due to the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who continues to block the planned delivery stop for Russian oil at EU level. Orbán’s delaying tactics may be about getting as much EU money as possible to convert Hungary’s energy sector.
“This would correspond to Orban’s usual course of action,” said EU diplomatic circles on Wednesday with a view to corresponding speculation. This was also indicated by public statements by his ministers, it said. Orbán is about “pushing the price as high as possible and using the lever of a veto”.
In order for the planned EU oil embargo against Russia to be passed, all 27 EU countries must agree. Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto had stated that 15 to 18 billion euros were needed to ensure his country’s independence from Russian oil.
EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson had also discussed billions in support for Hungary in converting the energy industry – albeit on a smaller scale. According to Simson, the EU Commission could provide a sum of up to two billion euros to help Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic in detaching themselves from Russian oil supplies.
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Hungary does not have a seaport where tankers with alternative oil supplies, for example from the Middle East, could dock. The country is completely dependent on a pipeline network for its oil supply, which, as things stand, dates back to the Soviet era. As in the case of Slovakia and the Czech Republic, supply is via the southern branch of the “Druschba” (“Friendship”) pipeline.
At the beginning of the week, Orbán wrote to EU Council President Charles Michel that it was “very unlikely” that a comprehensive solution could be found before the special EU summit in Brussels next Monday and Tuesday. He also warned that the sanctions proposed by the EU Commission would lead to “severe disruptions to the energy supply” in Hungary. Another massive increase in energy prices is also to be expected, Orbán continued.
Neither Orbán nor the head of the EU Commission, von der Leyen, is apparently interested in the technical details of the oil embargo being discussed at the summit next week. Von der Leyen said on Tuesday that the summit was not the right place for such a decision.