Századvég Institute: Majority of Europeans consider the ban on Russian oil and gas imports harmful

Recent research by the Hungarian Századvég Institute indicates that it is mainly the Poles who support sanctions on Russia.

Since spring, the European Commission has been advocating cutting off Russian energy imports. Officials in Brussels are sticking to their agenda that by restricting energy supplies, Russia can be forced to end the war at a tolerable cost to Europe, signaling that the majority of society backs them in these efforts.

Contrary to this belief, according to Századvég’s recent study, most European citizens believe that banning Russian oil and gas supplies does more harm than good to Europe.


Although the European political elite was united in its opposition to sanctions on Russian energy carriers after the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war in February, by the end of the spring, many officials had changed their minds.

The main advocate and driving force behind the turnaround was the European Commission. Despite criticism from several EU countries, including Hungary, by early summer it had pushed member states to expand the embargo to solid fuels and oil shipments by sea and has since been working to restrict gas supplies as well.

Brussels' main argument in favor of sanctions is that the benefit they bring in terms of helping end the conflict will outweigh the damage they cause.

Sadly, the intensity of the war has only been escalating for the last 10 months, and we can see that the effectiveness of sanctions is questionable at best, already having driven the EU into an economic crisis and, consequently, piling up enormous social costs.

To no one’s surprise, the effects of these developments are also starting to be felt strongly in European public opinion. Századvég’s recent survey clearly indicates that more than two-thirds of the adult population in EU member states agree that banning Russian oil and gas brings more harm than good.

In fact, Poland is the only member state that seems to support Brussel’s pro-sanctions attitude, which is understandable given its historical background, geographical location, and low exposure to Russian energy supplies. And yet, among the Polish public, only a narrow majority of 52 percent say the benefits of sanctions on Russian oil and gas outweigh the socio-economic toll caused by them.



Isn’t it telling that even the majority of citizens in the Baltic states, which are extremely pro-sanctions, do not agree with the Commission's reasoning?

The truth of the matter is, most of the adult population in all member states, except perhaps Poland, consider oil and gas bans to be harmful, with at least 70 percent in more than half of the countries sharing this view. Hungary has the 10th-highest level of disapproval, 72 percent, tied with Germany.

It is crystal clear what the people think on the matter. We will see, hopefully sooner rather than later, whether the European left gets the memo too.