With each day of war, the pressure on Germany to accept a possible import ban on gas, oil and coal from Russia is growing in the EU.
When first EU foreign ministers on Monday and then EU heads of state and government on Thursday and Friday discuss a possible tightening of sanctions at the summit, a group of five states will likely advocate quick steps. and clear.
These “hardliners” are Poland, Slovakia, and the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
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EU Commission circles said a freeze on energy imports from Russia could not be ruled out. “It will always depend on what is happening in Ukraine,” he said.
Meanwhile, an import ban is considered the sharpest sword among possible sanctions. Below this threshold, the EU Commission is also considering other countermeasures, such as extending sanctions to other economic sectors.
So far, the transport, energy and technology sectors have been affected in Russia.
A new round of sanctions must be approved by the 27 EU countries. According to EU diplomats, there are two other camps besides the advocates of the toughest possible sanctions policy against Poland.
On the one hand there are the “brakes” around Germany. This group also includes Italy, Hungary, Austria and Bulgaria. Bulgaria is 70 percent dependent on gas supplies from Russia.
Freezing assets of Russian funds as an option
Furthermore, there is still a large majority of EU states that keep the option of an import ban on the table, but in any case want to implement lower threshold sanctions as quickly as possible.
Among those possibilities is the option of freezing Russian assets in trust funds in the EU. An EU-wide approach is necessary because the funds in question are based in several countries, such as Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus.
France also speeds up sanctions
France also belongs to the large group of EU states that are neither among the “hardliners” nor among the “slower”. The country currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU. This role obliges France to remain neutral.
However, the government in Paris has nothing against accelerating the debate on a further tightening of sanctions. France is less dependent on Russian energy imports than Germany.
While in this country 55 percent of the demand for natural gas is covered by Russian imports, in France it is only around 20 percent.
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At a news conference to present his electoral program, French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that France must fundamentally become more independent in a “new era marked by the return of crises and war.”
Regarding energy policy, Macron had not only set himself the goal of building 50 new wind farms by 2050, but also reiterated his announcement that he would build six new generation nuclear reactors.
Faced with the political energy consequences of the war, Macron feels confirmed in his decision to expand the use of nuclear energy.