The EU is offering a tragedy these days. It has been almost four weeks since EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced her plan to stop Russian oil supplies. An oil embargo is seen as the most effective means of cutting off the money supply to the Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin.

The EU states transfer several hundred million euros to Russia every day to pay for the imports. But the difficulties in getting a final decision on an oil embargo demonstrate the EU’s unwillingness to continue to stand up to Putin together.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is primarily responsible for the community’s devastating appearance. In Hungary there are quite objective problems with quickly renewing the energy infrastructure, which dates back to the Soviet era, and creating alternative delivery routes for oil supplies beyond the “Druzhba” pipeline. But this alone does not explain the political poker game that Orbán has played in recent weeks: Orbán was not satisfied with the transitional periods that would allow Hungary to obtain Russian oil until the end of 2024. Instead, he saddled it with financial demands.

So that Orbán’s embarrassing blockade does not become too much of a public focus, EU Council President Charles Michel initially did not even put the planned oil embargo on the agenda of the special summit, which is being held in Brussels at the beginning of the week. But that doesn’t change the fact that there is currently no more important topic for the heads of state and government of the EU. That is why Michel was at least striving for a formula compromise: In principle, all states should sign an oil embargo – only pipeline oil, as supplied by Hungary, should be temporarily exempt from the delivery stop. However, this would water down Commission President von der Leyen’s original goal of imposing a complete ban on Russian oil supplies.

Despite such whitewashing at the summit, one thing is already certain: the unified line that the 27 EU countries have maintained in their various rounds of sanctions since the start of Russian aggression three months ago is crumbling terribly. Hungary is not the only country in the EU that expects a special regulation when it comes to when Russian oil should stop flowing. Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria are also demanding longer transition periods.

On the other hand, the federal government is aiming to phase out Russian oil supplies by the end of the year anyway, regardless of an EU decision. This could come at a high political price for the federal government. The risks of exiting Russian oil are high: an uncertain perspective for the refineries in Schwedt and Leuna and the risk of a further surge in inflation. Nevertheless, it is correct that the German government has given up its role as a brake in the EU, at least in the discussion about the oil embargo, if it is already hesitating about the delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine.

The EU, meanwhile, will have to adjust to the fact that this will not be the final test of unity that Putin’s war will evoke. The 27 countries of the community should not afford a week-long wrangling over the oil embargo, as was recently seen.