Germany has finally decided to support “actively” that the European Union (EU) ban imports of Russian oil to the EU “with a transition period”, as confirmed by EU diplomatic sources.
This confirms the information that had advanced by the German public broadcaster ZDF, in which European diplomats cited by that media assured that Berlin has expressed itself “clearly” in favor of this measure in the last talks in Brussels for the preparation of the sixth package of sanctions against Moscow, reports Efe.
However, the German government wants the sanctions package to include a transition phase to institute the oil embargo, the duration of which has not yet been specified, according to ZDF.
Germany, which is the largest Community economy, was until now one of the countries opposed to the curb on oil imports which, according to this media, is also opposed by Spain, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Austria and Slovakia.
Last Tuesday the German Minister of Economy and Energy, Robert Habeck, already signaled a possible change of orientation by indicating that in the eight weeks since the War in Ukraine began, Germany has managed to greatly reduce its imports of Russian oil, originally by 35%.
At the moment the figure is close to 12%, said Habeck, who, he said, was still looking for an alternative to replace that volume, imported by pipeline to the Schwedt refinery in the east of the country.
The optimistic message of the minister, who assured that “in a few days” Germany would be in a position to become independent of Russian oil, sparked speculation about the imminence of a possible embargo by Berlin.
However, on Friday a spokesman for the Ministry of Economy lowered expectations by ensuring that there are still “many open issues”, although according to the German Government “it would not hinder” an eventual embargo, as it would be in a position to “manage it”.
The European Commission is expected to include the Russian oil embargo in its new package of sanctions against Russia, the sixth since the invasion of Ukraine began.
According to Bloomberg on Saturday, Brussels plans to propose that the arrival of Russian oil to the EU be totally banned by the end of the year, with restrictions on imports introduced gradually until then.
The new restrictive measures would also contemplate the disconnection of more Russian and Belarusian banks from the international interbank SWIFT system, according to Bloomberg, which also indicates that member states could discuss the new sanctions next week.
Community sources have told Efe that the European Commission is working on more restrictive measures against individuals and “on additional sanctions, including those related to oil imports.”
“We are reflecting on some of the ideas put forward by Member States, such as taxes or specific payment channels, such as an escrow account,” they added.