EU summit unlikely to find solution on Russia oil embargo, von der Leyen says

REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen gestures during an interview with Reuters in the Alpine resort of Davos, Switzerland May 24, 2022.

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) – European Union leaders are unlikely to strike a deal on an oil embargo against Russia at their summit on Monday and Tuesday, head of the bloc’s executive Ursula von der Leyen said.

“I don’t think the summit is the right place for that… We should not stare at the summit,” she told Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday. She added that negotiations with member states were ongoing.

Von der Leyen’s Commission has proposed phasing out Russian oil imports by the end of the year in most EU member states, while Hungary and others could be given more time.

It would be the EU’s harshest sanction yet in response to Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Hungary, however, has so far refused to lift its veto.

It says hundreds of millions of euros are needed to upgrade its refining and pipeline infrastructure so that it can cut out Russian oil, while a total modernisation of its energy system would cost billions of euros.

Von der Leyen said the negotiations were mainly focusing on working out details now: “I don’t think that this will be a topic at the Council that will be decided there”.

She was echoed by an EU official.

“There is no way that such a technical subject could be negotiated by the heads of state and government at the summit,” the official said.