European leaders have agreed on a partial embargo of Russian oil imports into most EU Member State, as per the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.
This embargo will cover more than two-thirds of imports of Russian oil and should be around 90% effective by the end of the year, as per the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen. After formal approval on the ministerial level, there is expected to be a “6 to 8 months” delay before the embargo comes into force.
Europe remains the largest importer of Russian energy. Russian crude accounts for around 29% of total imports to the EU in 2021, or 2.4 million barrels every day, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
This embargo is intended to punish Russia and reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian energy. In a comment on Twitter, Michel stated that the embargo would cut off “a huge source of financing for (Russia’s) war machine.”
This partial embargo primarily concerns imports of crude oil transported by ship, which represents the majority of exports to Europe. For now, crude oil shipped to Europe by pipelines will remain free from the embargo, in order to ease the transition away from Russian oil and protect supplies in some vulnerable countries.
Countries like Belgium and the Netherlands receive the majority of their crude oil through their ports, rather than through pipelines. This means that they will willingly forgo one of their largest suppliers of crude oil imports.
Several European countries feared that an effective ban on oil tanker deliveries would give a distinct advantage to both Germany and Poland, who will maintain oil imports through a branch of Russia’s Druzhba pipeline.
As a result of the summit, however, both Berlin and Warsaw have given written confirmation that they will abandon all imports of Russian oil by the end of the year, raising the efficiency of international sanctions.