The EU’s next round of sanctions on Russia is stalling as Hungary remains the main obstacle to the bloc banning Russian oil. After an EU foreign ministers meeting on Monday, officials said they failed to convince Hungary to sign on to the oil ban.
“Unhappily, it has not been possible to reach an agreement today,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrel said after the meeting. He said Hungary’s opposition was over economic concerns, not political ones.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Budapest had still not received a serious offer from the EU’s European Commission on how the economic impact of banning Russian oil could be countered.
“The European Commission has caused a problem with a proposal so it’s a rightful expectation from Hungary… that the EU should offer a solution: to finance the investments and compensate for … the price rises which necessitates a total modernization of Hungary’s energy structure in a magnitude of 15-18 billion euros,” Szijjarto said.
Despite Hungary’s stance, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said she expected a deal to be reached soon. “In the coming days we will reach a common result — I am very confident about that,” she said.
Also on Monday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban warned the war in Ukraine and the Western response will bring recession to Europe. “The war and the European policy of sanctions given in response, has created an energy crisis,” Orban said.
“The energy crisis, and the interest rate hikes in the United States have jointly brought about the era of high inflation. All this will bring about the era of recession, when a decline in economic output, stagnation and years of slight increases in output will follow each other in Europe,” the Hungarian leader said.