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Hungary and Slovakia set to get an extra year before Russian oil ban kicks in

The European Commission is proposing to allow Hungary and Slovakia until the end of 2023 to stop their Russian oil imports, according to the Commission proposal seen by POLITICO.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has on Wednesday suggested an EU ban on Russian oil in its  latest package of sanctions against Moscow over the war in Ukraine, but stressed this should be done in an “orderly fashion.” The Commission is proposing to phase out Russian supply of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year.

The Commission had already signaled to EU countries there would be some form of transitional measures for Hungary and Slovakia, given how much these two countries rely on Russian oil and the difficulties they face in finding alternative supplies. In recent weeks, Hungary has emerged as one of the biggest roadblocks to going further with sanctions on the Russian energy sector.

According to the document, “the competent authorities of Hungary and Slovakia may authorise the execution until 31 Decembers 2023 of contracts” concluded before the new sanctions package enters into force, “or ancillary contracts necessary for the execution of such contracts.”

Hungary and Slovakia would have to notify the Commission of any plans to make use of the exemption, and would need to set out the terms of any ongoing oil deals.

In the coming days, the Commission’s plan will be debated by EU countries. Some EU diplomats already indicated they want to shorten both the phaseout period as the exemption period for Hungary and Slovakia.

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