For a complete embargo to be successful, the bloc has yet to convince countries which rely more heavily on Russian energy supplies. The European Union is proposing a comprehensive oil embargo against Russia for the first time, as Moscow continues its war on Ukraine. The bloc hopes Europe will stop importing Russian oil by the end of the year. However, questions remain. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the details of a planned sixth package of sanctions against Russia on May 4, which includes the bold oil move. As soon as the proposal was announced, Hungary and Slovakia expressed strong reservations. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban says the move would devastate his country’s economy, and suggested Russian shipments through pipelines should be exempted from a ban that could apply only to sea deliveries. Both Hungary and Slovakia received between 75 and 100 per cent of their oil imports from Russia last year. Now, the Commission wants all EU members to stop all Russian crude oil imports within six months and only import refined products such as petrol, diesel, or kerosene into the European Union until the end of the year. Moreover, the EU seeks to ban shipping and insurance companies from dealing with Russian oil. “This measure aims to leverage Russia’s high dependency on Western insurers and shippers and to deter third countries from backfilling,” Maria Shagina, visiting senior fellow at the Center on US Politics and Power and the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, told Al Jazeera. “The absence of a European energy embargo currently constitutes the major weakness in the Western sanctions regime.” Most EU sanctions against Russia so far have emerged from EU Council decisions and regulations, and are essentially amendments to measures imposed on Russia after it annexed Crimea in 2014. Since the start of the current war in February, the EU Council has continued to amend these decisions and their accompanying regulations, which are enforceable by EU law. For von der Leyen’s desired “complete ban” on Russian oil to be enforced, all 27 member states must vote unanimously on a set of terms, further amend previous decisions and allow the Commission to serve as the key enforcer for the regulations. “This is a very powerful tool at the EU’s disposal, but it requires unanimous consent from all member states. The ban would become part of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, its main foreign policy arm,” William T Daniel, assistant professor in comparative politics at the University of Nottingham, told Al Jazeera. “Unlike in other areas where the EU has complete autonomy to act, foreign policy is still left up to the collective agreement of the member states. If the EU cannot find a way to get all 27 members to agree to a unified set of terms, then it cannot fully act in this area,” Daniel added. As well as Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Croatia, too, is considering an exemption. Bulgaria also has reservations. “More than 90 percent of Slovakia’s oil imports come from Russia, mostly through the Druzhba pipeline. Slovakia is also a landlocked country and importing any oil through the sea would be a highly cumbersome process that would cost far more than importing Russian oil through a pipeline,” Hari Seshasayee, global fellow at the Wilson Center . . . read the full article here.