Estonia threatens to use veto right in EU's Russian oil price cap dispute

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Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa).
Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Estonia is threatening to veto an EU-wide price cap agreement for Russian oil unless it is reduced, Estonian ministers said on Thursday. The current suggested limit is in line with the G7's proposal.

Reuters reported on Thursday that European Union governments failed to agree on whether to support the G7's $65-70 per barrel price cap proposal.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) hinted that Estonia could resort to its veto right.

"Estonia finds that the price horizon's ambition is too low, considering that the EU has also failed to agree on a ninth sanctions package. The cap seems too high," he said at the government's press conference on Thursday.

"It is a critical moment where all Member States have an equal vote," he added, pointing to EU foreign policy rules on consensual decision-making or countries' de facto veto right.

"Expressing our position clearly, in a life or death situation, such as this war is surely justified. Therefore, these discussions are ongoing," Reinsalu said.

Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Riina Sikkut (SDE) agreed.

Riina Sikkut Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

"Sixty-five dollars is still too much because [with such a price level] Russia can continue to finance its war crimes in Ukraine. I hope that this price will come down from $65 dollars and then it can be enforced around the world," Sikkut told Vikerradio's "Uudis+". 

Latvia, Lithuania and Poland also think the cap is set too high, the minister said.

Politico and Reuters reported on Thursday that Poland asked for the ceiling to be set at $30 per barrel.

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen proposed the $60 cap, Politico wrote Thursday. The publication said that most EU Member States agree to the price ceiling proposed by the G7.

But Reuters reported that Greece, Cyprus and Malta, countries that stand to lose the most from falling Russian oil exports, are demanding compensation or a longer transition period.

Oil train Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The G7 believes the price cap should enter into force on December 5.

Member State ambassadors will continue their deliberations on Thursday afternoon.

The price of Brent crude is currently hovering around the $85 mark.

Editor's note: This article was updated to add comments from Riina Sikkut.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski, Helen Wright

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