EU not ready to accept Russian oil ban, leaders say

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Of course, the leaders are close to agreeing on the principle of a ban, a draft text showed, but they will leave all the decisions and difficult decisions for later.

“We are not there yet,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “But I’m confident that eventually there will be a possibility.”

Earlier, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said it was more realistic to expect a deal next month.

“I don’t think we’ll get a deal today. We’ll try to get a deal by the June summit, that’s the realistic approach now,” Kallas said.

The next summit is scheduled for June 23-24.

A draft text seen by Reuters – which could still be revised again – would confirm that a possible sixth EU sanctions package will include a ban on imports of oil by sea, oil by pipeline supplied to Hungary, to landlocked Slovakia and Czech Republic to be sanctioned at a later point.

However, the leaders will not finalize a deal on this now, but rather ask diplomats and ministers to find a solution that would also ensure fair competition between those who still get Russian oil and those who are cut off from it.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said “these are not easy decisions”, adding: “I have no doubt that in the next few days, the next few weeks, decisions will be made.”

With Hungary the main obstacle to an agreement on a Russian oil ban, its Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, said on his arrival at the EU summit that things were not going well on an oil embargo.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski, John Chalmers Bart Meijer, Gabriela Baczynska, Kate Abnett, Philip Blenkinsop, Sabine Siebold; Writing by Ingrid Melander)

By Marine Strauss and Gabriela Baczynska

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