EU proposes ‘total ban’ on Russian oil imports within six months –

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen unveiled Wednesday (4 May) the European Union’s sixth sanctions package against Russia, including a “Complete ban on all Russian oil” and refined petroleum products in the next six months and new sanctions against banks.

“Today we are going to propose a ban on all Russian oil in Europe”said Mrs von der Leyen in a long-awaited speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

“It will be a complete ban on all Russian oil imports – by sea and pipeline, [qu’il soit] raw or refined she added, announcing the bloc’s sixth round of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Oil prices rose immediately after this announcement, which also includes the withdrawal of Russia’s largest bank, sberbank, of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) system.

The president of the European executive has admitted that the ban “will not be easy”implement “because some member states are heavily dependent on Russian oil”

“But we just have to do it” she added, specifying that these measures will deprive the Russian economy of resources that would allow it to wage war, diversify and modernize it.

To minimize the impact on the economy and society, Ms von der Leyen said the phased exit from Russia’s oil would be implemented “methodically”to enable the securing of alternative supply routes.

“Therefore, over the next six months, we will gradually stop sourcing from Russian crude oil and refined products by the end of the year”she continued, saying this will maximize pressure on Russia and minimize collateral damage to the European economy.

Ambassadors from the 27 EU member states will hold a first exchange of views today to discuss the proposal, which must be unanimously approved by member states in order to be adopted. EU leaders will hold a summit in Brussels on 24-25 May, where the sanctions package is expected to be formally approved.

The full text of the proposal will be revealed in the course of the day. In a document that AFP has seen, Ms von der Leyen’s proposal calls for additional time to be given to Hungary and Slovakia, both heavily dependent on Russian oil, to comply with this measure.

Slovakia, which like Hungary is almost 100% dependent on Russian crude supplied through the Druzbha pipeline, said it would take several years.

The new sanctions package came about after Berlin dropped its opposition, with German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck announcing to EU ministers on Monday that “Germany is not against ban on Russian oil”

At 555,000 barrels per day, Germany imported 35% of its crude oil from Russia in 2021, but has recently reduced that figure to 12%, the German economy ministry said on Sunday.

Parliament emphasizes the social and economic consequences

The reactions of the European Parliament were mostly positive, but focused on the need to deal with the economic consequences of such an embargo.

Esther de Lange, a Dutch MP from the same group as Ms von der Leyen, the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), supported new EU sanctions against Russia and said the immediate priority was to “act against “Vladimir Putin’s Barbarian War” in Ukraine.

“Having said that, we also need to talk about the economic impact and our ability to act here”while maintaining a solid industrial base in Europe. She also made it clear that this is essential to preserve the unity of Europe.

In a direct conversation with Ms. von der Leyen, Ms. de Lange said: “We urgently need an analysis of the cumulative effect of war – rising energy prices, shortages of raw materials and new legislation on the table”which she says could have disastrous consequences for European businesses and families struggling to heat their homes.

“For the EPP, this translates into a strategy of diversifying raw materials” explains Ms. de Lange, as well as through increased efforts to use renewable energy.

“To be quite honest, we demand a lot from our industries. And make no mistake, the EPP wants to meet the goals of the “Fit for 55” package and the climate law. But maybe we should consider a legal embargo on new laws to make sure we don’t burden certain industries with the cumulative effect.” rising energy prices, new climate legislation and new regulations for chemicals at the same time.

Speaking on behalf of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group, Iratxe García Pérez said that the next step in the context of sanctions “must be to cut gas and oil”by stepping up efforts to diversify gas supplies and combat climate change.

Defeating Vladimir Putin does not mean, however, that countries should be left to fend for themselves without Russian oil and gas, she added, calling for greater solidarity among EU member states to face the effects of war. for example with regard to the reception of refugees.

To cushion the social consequences of such an embargo, she also called on member states to tax significant profits made by energy companies since the start of the war. †While the big companies in the energy sector make a lot of money, it is the most vulnerable people who are affected by this war.”point them out.

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