The struggle between Hungary and the EU over the oil embargo against Russia continues.
Diplomats hope that the blockade will be resolved by the special summit at the end of May.
By then, the question of how the energy companies will pay for their Russian gas without violating EU sanctions must also be resolved.
Many companies have to pay the next installment by then.
It is said that around May 20th it will be the turn of the main German importer Uniper.
Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens), head of the network agency Klaus Müller and company bosses are confident.
However, it is still unclear how the money can be paid in accordance with the sanctions.
Does this mean that Germany is threatening the fate of Poland and Bulgaria, which Russia cut off the gas for in April?
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According to EU diplomats, the European Commission is not innocent of the difficult situation because its initial "instructions" on payment were unclear.
However, the situation is also tricky: on the one hand, EU sanctions prohibit companies from paying bills in rubles.
On the other hand, a decree issued by Russia's President Vladimir Putin provides for just that.
"Unfriendly countries" can pay for their gas in dollars or euros to a so-called K-account at Gazprom Bank.
However, the payment is considered completed only when the foreign currency has been transferred to the company's ruble account at the bank on the company's instructions.
The hope is now based on a kind of formula compromise.
The Commission has improved its instructions again and made it clear that the opening of the K-account at Gazprom Bank, which Poland and Bulgaria rejected, does not violate the sanctions.
At the same time, however, she emphasized that the corporations must clearly state that, from their point of view, the payment is completed with the transfer of foreign currency to the account.
Energy companies are confident
However, it remains unclear whether opening a ruble account would also violate the sanctions.
"Germany agrees with the K-account model," emphasizes the President of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, in an interview with the FAZ. The procedure makes it possible to meet the Russian conditions and sanctions in equal measure.
The big question is whether Russia sees it the same way.
But that was not a technical, but a political decision by Putin, say diplomats.
A decision that could be different every day.
The energy companies are apparently assuming a solution.
On request, RWE said: "We are prepared for a payment in euros and have also opened a corresponding account." RWE did not comment on the details.
Uniper recently spoke of complying with the sanctions and paying in euros.
The exact procedure is unknown.
Three weeks ago, CEO Klaus-Dieter Maubach told the FAZ: “But we are fundamentally preparing to pay using the two-account solution.
That means we continue to pay in euros and an immediate conversion to rubles takes place, orchestrated by Gazprom Bank.”
The French company Engie says it has already reached an agreement with Gazprom.
An acceptable agreement had been reached, said Engie boss Catherine MacGregor.
The Italian Eni concern has also started to open two K-accounts at Gazprom Bank.
The company will continue to pay in euros, but a "clearing house operating on the Moscow Stock Exchange will convert to rubles within 48 hours without the involvement of the Central Bank of Russia."
The Russian authorities confirmed that.
Any risks or costs from the new payment method would be assigned to Gazprom Export, it said.
Eni believes that this action does not violate EU sanctions because "Eni's payment obligations will be considered fulfilled once the euros have been transferred in accordance with the contract".Keywords: