Bulgaria seeks exemption to proposed EU embargo on oil imports from Russia

Bulgaria’s Economy Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and leader of ruling coalition partner the Bulgarian Socialist Party Kornelia Ninova confirmed on May 5 that the country wanted an exemption from the embargo proposed by the European Commission (EC) on oil imports from Russia.

A complete import ban on all Russian oil is among measures in the sixth set of sanctions being proposed by the EC in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“This will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined,” EC President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament on May 4.

She said that some EU countries are strongly dependent on Russia oil “but we simply have to work on it”.

Ninova told a news conference in Sofia: “The embargo on oil imports should not apply to Bulgaria”.

She was repeating a message conveyed to a local Bulgarian-language website on May 4 by Deputy Prime Minister Assen Vassilev.

Ninova was speaking after participating in talks led by Prime Minister Kiril Petkov with business associations on the prices of natural gas and electricity, as well as the measures required in response.

She said that at the meeting, it had been agreed that compensation for businesses would continue in May. The amounts remained to be determined, Ninova said.

The meeting also discussed Bulgaria’s request to the EC for a possible abolition of the excise duty on gas, and asking Brussels to agree to Bulgaria increasing the threshold for mandatory registration for value-added tax, VAT.

The Bulgarian government is working hard to have clear gas supplies at prices that are not different from those that would come through Gazprom, Petkov said.

He said that next week, the prices of gas would be announced. Bulgaria’s energy regulator is due to meet on May 10. “We hope that there will be no increase,” he said.

Regarding gas supplies, Petkov said: “We discussed many options for what would happen, so that we are ready and to ensure predictability for Bulgarian business and workers”.

Petkov called on the public to be calm, because at the moment the gas supply had not stopped, had not decreased and the price had not increased. Bulgaria was targeted by Russia for a cut-off of natural gas supplies because the government in Sofia refused to bow to Russia’s demand for gas supplies to be paid for in roubles.

For The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of Russia’s war on Ukraine, please click here.

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