EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has announced that introducing a total ban on Russian gas imports has been ruled out because the bloc would not be able to pass a unanimous vote due to Hungary’s position.
“A unanimous decision cannot be taken because there is one country, Hungary, which has said it will veto it,” the politician said in an interview with the Spanish outlet COPE.
At the same time, Borrell seemed to acknowledge Budapest’s position, saying, “Giving up what you don’t have is easy,” adding that countries that are much more reliant on Russian gas imports are in a difficult position right now.
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, who recently won re-election, said last week that Russian gas is his country’s only option, as the country is landlocked and wouldn’t be able to directly receive liquified gas from the US.
“It’s not about putting on a sweater at night, or turning down the heating a little or paying a bit more for gas, it’s about the fact that if there is no energy coming from Russia, Hungary will be left with no energy at all,” said Orban.
Nevertheless, Borell stressed the importance of EU countries becoming less reliant on Russian energy, arguing that buying gas from Russia is “financing the war.” He did, however, admit that it’s impossible to cut a 55% dependence on Russian gas overnight, referring to the situation in Germany, where the Federation of German Industries President Siegfried Russwurm said on Thursday that the German industry would “collapse” if it were cut off from Russian gas.
But Borrell insists that his bloc must reduce its reliance on energy from Russia as fast as possible, and proposes to start with oil, as it is easier and there is more of it. Moscow currently supplies around 40% of all the gas used by EU nations and around a third of their oil.