After all-day talks lasting into the early hours of Tuesday, the European Union agreed on the sixth embargo package against Russia, while Hungary scored a major diplomatic success as it got the exemption on pipeline oil deliveries it requested.
Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, which provided the institutional framework for the summit, announced the success of the negotiations shortly after midnight. The punitive measures are effective immediately, with two-thirds of Russia’s oil exports to the European Union expected to be affected.
French authorities explained that 90 percent of Russia’s oil imports would disappear by the end of the year.
Russian oil exports to the EU account for a quarter of the European Union’s total oil imports — they were worth $108 billion (€99 billion) to the Russian economy in 2021 alone.
The most controversial element of the sanctions package was the embargo on oil imports from Russia, which was rejected by the Hungarian government. Since top-level EU decisions require unanimity, Hungary was the only member to veto the entire sanctions package.
Less loudly and without waving a veto, Slovakia and the Czech Republic did not fully support the oil embargo either, as these two countries, like Hungary, also rely heavily on the Russian oil pipeline called Friendship, but there have also been reports of serious concerns from Croatia and Bulgaria.
To convince the Hungarian government, the draft sanction included the stipulation that the embargo would only apply to Russian oil coming through tankers, and that oil coming through the pipeline would be exempted from the import ban.
“We managed to repel the commission’s proposal which would have banned the use of Russian oil in Hungary,” Orbán said in a Facebook post as the negotiations concluded.
Czech PM Petr Fiala has described the agreement as an “excellent result” for the European Union and the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic negotiated an 18-month exception from the ban on purchasing products made out of Russian oil. Fiala said that while oil deliveries coming from the sea will immediately be discontinued, those coming in via pipelines will be gradually discontinued.