Bosses and unions in Germany have joined forces to protest a possible EU ban on Russian gas, saying it would shut down the industry.
After the country’s invasion of Ukraine in February, many politicians in Germany are calling for an EU-wide ban on Russian gas imports.
But German employers and unions announced on Monday they oppose such a move, saying it would result in job losses and factory closures in the EU’s largest economy.
“A rapid gas embargo would lead to lost production, shutdowns, further deindustrialization and the long-term loss of jobs in Germany,” said Rainer Dulger, chairman of the BDA employers’ group, and Reiner Hoffmann, chairman of the BDA DGB, in a joint statement on Monday.
They added that while EU sanctions are necessary to put pressure on Russia, they must minimize the impact on those who impose them.
“We don’t see that in the current discussion,” they said.
EU ministers are currently debating a possible embargo on Russian oil, as Ukraine leaders say proceeds from energy sales are funding Russia’s war effort in Ukraine.
This follows an EU decision in April to ban Russian coal imports.
Germany, along with Italy, Hungary and Austria, is heavily dependent on Russian energy and has been one of the most reluctant EU member states to impose sanctions on gas and oil imports from the country.
As a key manufacturing hub, it has so far resisted calls for an immediate shutdown, saying it would instead phase out Russian oil by the end of the year and most Russian gas imports by mid-2024.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz has warned that a sudden shutdown of Russian gas would plunge “all of Europe into a recession”.
Analysts say an EU boycott of Russian energy would lead to higher energy prices and hurt consumers who are already facing record inflation of 7.5% in the EU.
But Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck says the country has already reduced its dependence on Russian energy since invading Ukraine.
Russian oil imports have fallen from 35% to 25% and gas imports from 55% to 40%, he said.
Despite widespread economic sanctions against Russian banks and individuals, the EU continues to transfer around $850 million a day to Russia for oil and gas, even as EU governments condemn the war in Ukraine.
The 27 EU countries get about 40% of their natural gas from Russia and about 25% of their oil.