Von der Leyen heads to Hungary to talk oil ban with Orban

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is traveling to Hungary on Monday to meet Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in an effort to persuade him to back her proposal to ban Russian oil imports from the EU.

“They will discuss issues related to European security of energy supply,” von der Leyen’s spokesman said.

In the last few days, Hungary has blocked plans for EU-wide sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s oil industry, which von der Leyen proposed on May 4. Hitting Russian oil sales is seen as vital to limiting a key revenue stream funding Putin’s war in Ukraine.

Talks between the bloc’s 27 countries broke up without a deal on Sunday, and diplomats in Brussels are still unclear when a new meeting will be convened.

The Commission is proposing phasing out Russian crude oil imports within six months and refined fuels by the end of this year.

The most recent plans, circulated on Sunday and seen by POLITICO, envisage giving landlocked Hungary and Slovakia – which rely heavily on Russian oil – until the end of 2024 to comply. The Czech Republic would get until end of June 2024 before the oil embargo kicks in.

But the concessions did not go far enough for Hungary, diplomats said after Sunday’s meeting. Orbán has said the economic impact of blocking Russian oil imports would be like a nuclear bomb for Hungary.

The Commission and the French Presidency of the Council of the EU said they’d continue to work on guarantees for the security of energy supply.

Diplomats are unclear when a new draft sanctions package will be floated or when they will next meet to discuss the plan.