Germany is no longer holding back on the question of a European embargo on Russian oil. On the contrary, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock confirmed on Sunday May 1 that she was pleading for such a measure, as part of a sixth sanctions package against Moscow. The energy ministers of the 27 countries of the European Union were to debate it on Monday May 2 in Brussels.
→ ANALYSIS. Relations with Russia: Germany reviews the political legacy of Angela Merkel
The German announcement comes much earlier than expected. The new government in Berlin initially claimed that it could only endure such an embargo at the end of the year, and then in the summer. But the country seems to have gone faster than expected to replace Russian oil which, before the war, represented 35% of Germany’s imports. In two months, this share fell to 12%.
Negotiations with Poland
For the Minister of Energy, Robert Habeck, an embargo on Russian oil would therefore “tolerable”would not result in “oil crisis” but do not “would not leave the economy unscathed”. The environmental minister mentions, among other things, new increases in fuel prices and a “temporary loss” supply in certain regions.
The east of the country, and in particular the capital, Berlin, are indeed very dependent on Russian oil transported via the so-called Druschba pipeline to the refinery in Schwedt-sur-Oder, on the Polish border. However, it is 54% owned by the Russian Rosneft, which has no interest in seeking new suppliers. Recently, Energy Minister Robert Habeck confirmed that all avenues were being studied to solve this problem, including nationalizing the refinery. It is also negotiating with Poland to ship oil through the port of Gdansk.
Oil yes, gas not yet
Although Germany is now in favor of an embargo on Russian oil, reluctance within the EU remains strong, particularly on the part of Hungary and Slovakia, but also Greece and Spain. On the other hand, Berlin continues to brake on a possible embargo on Russian gas. If the share of this hydrocarbon coming from Russia fell from 55% to 35% in two months, the powerful chemical industry remains very dependent on it. According to the government in Berlin, an abrupt halt to these imports would lead to an economic recession in Germany with repercussions for its European neighbors.