The European Union’s leadership wants to issue new sanctions against Russia in response to planned referendums on joining Russia that will be held in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine.
But the EU has struggled to reach a consensus on the issue as sanctions have backfired and Europeans are facing soaring energy prices as winter is approaching.
On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrel said the bloc would work quickly to impose new sanctions, although he didn’t detail what they might be. “I am sure that we will be able to find a unanimous agreement for the new sanctions package,” he said.
But there is growing opposition to the EU’s sanctions policy that is being led by Hungary, and every bloc member needs to agree for sanctions to be implemented. The country’s governing party Fidesz, which is led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has said it will hold a national poll on sanctions policy to see how much popular support it has.
“The sanctions are causing harm. They are destroying Europe’s economy,” said Mate Kocsis, Fidesz’s parliamentary leader. “We have to convince European decision-makers, the members of the elite, that they shouldn’t maintain the energy sanctions because big problems will come out if it.”
The poll would be an informal survey known as a “national consultation” that Hungarians can complete online or by mail. Kocsis said that the results of the poll could be used to debate sanctions with the EU. Hungarian media reported this week that Orban favors scrapping sanctions on Russia altogether, a move he thinks would cut gas prices in half.