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EU rewrites oil ban to give Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic more time

The European Commission has proposed a revised plan for sanctioning Vladimir Putin’s lucrative oil industry, to give some countries in the bloc more time to prepare for life without the Russian fuel imports.

Under plans seen by POLITICO and put forward to diplomats on Friday, Hungary and Slovakia would get until the end of 2024 — an extra year on top of the original timetable — to comply with the ban.

The Czech Republic, which also expressed concerns about the timescale proposed by Ursula von der Leyen earlier this week, will have until the end of June 2024, under the Commission’s latest draft.

Hungary and Slovakia had warned that the economic damage from ditching Russian oil supplies would be too severe unless they had more time to adapt. Slovakia said it needed until at least the end of 2025 while Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called for a five-year delay.

Talks between diplomats from EU countries are ongoing and no final agreement on the bloc’s sixth Russia sanctions package has been reached. Targeting Putin’s oil industry is seen as vital to try to limit a key revenue stream helping finance his invasion of Ukraine.

With debate over details continuing, the negotiations between EU countries could go on late on Friday night or into the weekend.

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