An EU summit is scheduled for May 30-31 in Brussels to reach an agreement on the sixth package of sanctions against Russia.
France, together with the European Council, proposed a compromise to remove the Druzhba pipeline from any future oil embargo and to apply sanctions only to oil transported to the EU in tanker vessel. However, the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the Governments of the Member States to the EU (Coreper) failed to reach such a compromise.
"Today, Coreper held a meeting to discuss the issue of the ban on [Russian] oil supplies. We will have to consider extra details at another meeting on Monday," a source in the EU institutions in Brussels said on Sunday after Coreper’s extraordinary meeting ahead of the EU summit said.
"I can say that all the countries are determined to restrict Russian oil supplies, but we need extra coordination," the source added. According to the source, the summit is unlikely to make a decision on the oil embargo, which is part of the sixth package of sanctions on Moscow.
This round of sanctions envisages stopping purchases of Russian crude oil in six months and Russian petroleum products by the end of the year, as well as imposing further sanctions on Russian banks and increasing the blacklist of Russian individuals.
Moreover, the source confirmed that the European Commission has accepted Hungary's request to postpone the ban on oil supply via the Druzhba pipeline. Currently, the EU only discusses restrictions on oil supply by sea.
Hungary, which has no access to seaborne oil tankers and depends on Russian crude oil supplied through the Druzhba pipeline for 65 percent of its oil needs, has stood in the way of the most recent set of proposed sanctions. The country has rejected as insufficient the proposal to give it two years longer than the rest of the EU to divest itself of Russian oil.
Along these lines, several other countries, including Hungary and Slovakia, have expressed their opposition claiming that these measures would be detrimental to their economies and would even benefit Russia in the long run, as they would lead to higher oil prices as Russia exports its oil to Asia and other regions.