Russia coal ban 'no problem' for Luxembourg, says Turmes
Sanctions barring Russian coal from the EU pose “no problem” for Luxembourg’s energy supplies and any future embargo on gas would not be catastrophic for the Grand Duchy, unlike other countries such as Germany, Energy Minister Claude Turmes said on Wednesday.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a new package of measures on Tuesday – yet to be approved by EU countries - which includes a ban on coal imports from Russia.
“That for us in Luxembourg is no problem because we barely [need] any,” Turmes said during an interview on RTL radio.
However, the bloc is split over whether to go further by targeting oil and gas supplies, which have bankrolled Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. There were calls for further action at meetings of EU finance ministers in Luxembourg earlier this week, after reports that Russian armed forces executed unarmed civilians in Ukraine over the weekend.
But countries like Germany and Austria said they were hesitant to do so because of their heavy reliance on energy supplies from Russia and for fear fuel prices would rise even further, hurting voters' pockets.
The weekend images from Ukraine were “intolerable”, Turmes said, but added that any “overnight embargo of gas would hurt industries”, without clarifying whether he was referring to Luxembourg or the EU as a whole.
However, he said that Luxembourg’s position on a potential gas ban was more relaxed than other EU countries.
“We are one of the countries that have the fewest problems with a gas embargo on Russia,” he said.
Over a quarter of gas imports to Luxembourg comes from Russia, Turmes said last month.
Sanctions would “only make sense” if all EU countries follow through on a joint plan, the Energy Minister added.
Luxembourg needs to clearly assess the economic consequences of any further sanctions before agreeing to extra measures, Finance Minister Yuricko Backes told public broadcaster 100,7 on Wednesday.
"It's very simple to say we need more sanctions. We need more sanctions. Yes, we need more sanctions, but then we also need to be aware of the consequences that this will have,” she said.