MEPs reject an embargo on Russian gas and oil

The Christian Democratic opposition party CSV had put a motion to the vote calling for arms sales to Ukraine, support for Ukraine’s EU accession, humanitarian corridors and investigations into war crimes, but also an immediate energy embargo.

“Every day we are confronted with a war that kills, that causes suffering, where rapes take place, where people flee when they have the opportunity, where everything is taken from them,” Claude Wiseler (CSV) explains the submission of the document.

“We are convinced that if Putin wins this war in Ukraine, he will not stop,” he added, adding that Ukrainians are risking their lives for the West. “They make war for us.”

In early April, MEPs voted overwhelmingly in favor of an oil and gas embargo after the EU had previously decided to ban coal imports. Luxembourg MEPs from all the parties represented – CSV, DP, déi Gréng and LSAP – supported the resolution.

In Luxembourg, the majority parties (DP, déi Gréng and LSAP) rejected the document for technical reasons.

Agree to disagree

“We should all agree that the content of this application is important,” said Yves Cruchten (LSAP). “We must isolate Russia politically and economically. Ukraine and the Ukrainian people deserve our full support.”

However, he insisted that the proposal would force Luxembourg ministers negotiating in Brussels to stick to a firm stance, who would then be unable to find a compromise between member countries.

Yves Cruchten thus echoes Prime Minister Xavier Bettel (DP), who said that Luxembourg, as an importer of energy from other EU countries, should coordinate with its partners and that various options are on the table. Belgium, for example, has proposed a spending cap on Russian gas during a transition period.

Supporting a full embargo without giving dependent countries time and opportunity to look for alternatives could sow discord in the EU, he added.

Sven Clement of the Pirate Party, who backed the motion, said the document was not a “mandatory mandate” but would allow Luxembourg to present itself with a strong position in Brussels and support other member countries that are in favor of an embargo. Nothing in the document would prevent the government from finding another compromise if that was the best way forward for the 27-nation bloc, he added.

energy imports

In 2021, the EU imported energy from Russia worth around 100 billion euros. As part of the REPowerEU program, the EU has committed to phase out Russian fossil fuels by 2030. In response to the war in Ukraine, the Baltic states announced in April that they had stopped importing gas from Russia.

Supplier Gazprom, meanwhile, turned off the faucet in Poland and Bulgaria this week for defaulting on ruble payments. Following EU sanctions on Russia, the country has demanded to be paid in its local currency, even when in breach of existing treaties. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the move “unacceptable” but said the EU would launch an “immediate, unified and coordinated” response.

A debate on the text of the motion on Thursday afternoon was inconclusive, with speakers circling whether the document would prevent Luxembourg from supporting the European compromise. Put to the vote, it received the support of the CSV and the Pirate Party, but was rejected by all other groups in Parliament.

The left-wing Déi Lénk party said it could not support the delivery of arms to Ukraine because of the risk of the war escalating and prolonging it. The right-wing ADR party, meanwhile, warned of a recession following an energy embargo and also raised questions about Ukraine’s future in the EU.

“Russia is not a democracy,” declared Fernand Kartheiser (ADR). “But Ukraine is not a democracy either,” he added. “They don’t necessarily fight for our values.”

This article was written by
in English, translated and published by Paperjam in French.

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