Sanctions: European Commission publishes consolidated list of travel bans
On 11 May, the European Commission published a consolidated list of travel bans in its EU Sanctions Map tool. This includes those who are implicated, in one way or another, in Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
This sanctions tool is available to Member State authorities as well as EU citizens and allows EU citizens to see who is subject to a travel ban under our sanctions measures, and is therefore prevented from travelling to the EU.
EU High Representative Josep Borrell said that “travel bans are an integral element of our foreign policy toolbox and an important feature of most EU sanctions regimes”.
“Since 2014, the Council has imposed travel bans against 1,091 individuals in response to their actions violating Ukraine’s sovereignty. Since the start of the illegal Russian aggression in Ukraine this year, approximately 900 travel bans restricting entry into the territory of the EU have been imposed against individuals who support and facilitate that aggression,” said Borrell.
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EU to present military assistance measures for Georgia and Moldova as war rages in Ukraine
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU High Representative Josep Borrell addressed the European Parliament today, reporting on recent EU decisions, including on Ukraine and other Eastern Partnership countries, and presenting the results of the Extraordinary European Council held in Brussels on 30-31 May.
Ursula von der Leyen noted that breaking free from dependency on Russian fossil fuels, strengthening the EU’s defence, food security, and reconstruction of Ukraine remain the main EU priorities.
She said the upcoming food crisis, which will affect 265 million people worldwide this year alone, is fuelled by Putin’s aggressive war against Ukraine: “Whereas Russia actively weaponises hunger, the EU’s sanctions are carefully crafted to avoid a negative impact and they foresee a clear exemption for food products. Our sanctions do not touch basic food commodities. They do not affect the trading of grain, or other food, between Russia and third countries.”
Josep Borrell (whose speech was delivered by European Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis) added that the EU would continue to work with its partners to isolate Russia in international fora and would increase military support to Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia.
“We have proposed to increase the non-lethal military assistance measures benefitting Georgia and [the Republic of] Moldova. It will support logistics, cyber-defence, military medical, engineering and mobility capabilities. We will present them in June for planned adoption by the Council in July,” said Borrell.
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Borrell: EU members ‘will reach agreement’ on new sanctions package against Russia
European Union members will reach an agreement on a new sanctions package against Russia, including imposing restrictions on Russian oil imports, during the ongoing summit in Brussels, EU High Representative Josep Borrell said in an interview with France Info today.
“We need to decide unanimously. There were tough talks yesterday afternoon, as well as this morning. I think that this afternoon, we will be able to offer to the heads of the member states an agreement,” said Borrell.
European Union governments have so far failed to reach agreement on an embargo on Russian oil. “We have to take the individual circumstances of everybody into account,” Borrell said.
He added that an EU-wide solution should give the three countries which accounted for 7% to 8% of Russian oil imports – Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia – “more time to adjust”.
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European Commission proposes rules on freezing and confiscating assets of oligarchs and other criminals violating restrictive measures
On 25 May, the European Commission proposed the inclusion of violations of EU restrictive measures in the EU’s list of crimes, in light of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. This will allow to set a common basic standard on criminal offences and penalties across the EU.
The Commission has also proposed new strengthened rules on asset recovery and confiscation, which would also facilitate the implementation of EU restrictive measures. The proposal would modernise EU asset recovery rules, in particular by expanding the powers of Asset Recovery Offices to quickly trace and identify the assets of individuals and entities subject to EU restrictive measures. These powers would also apply to criminally derived assets, including through the urgent freezing of assets where there is a risk that assets may disappear.
“EU sanctions must be respected and those trying to go around them punished. The violation of EU sanctions is a serious crime and must come with serious consequences, said Věra Jourová, the European Commission’s Vice-President for Values and Transparency. “As a Union we stand up for our values and we must make those who keep Putin’s war machine running pay the price.”
The proposals have been put forward as part of the ‘Freeze and Seize’ Task Force, set up by the European Commission in March. So far, Member States have reported frozen assets worth €9.89 billion and blocked €196 billion worth of transactions. On 11 April, Europol, jointly with Member States, Eurojust and Frontex, launched Operation Oscar to support financial and criminal investigations targeting criminal assets owned by individuals and legal entities covered by EU sanctions.
Once the EU Member States agree on the Commission’s initiative to extend the list of EU crimes, the Commission will present a legislative proposal based on the accompanying Communication and Annex.
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World Press Freedom Day: EU urges Russia to stop attacks on journalists
On the eve of World Press Freedom Day tomorrow, EU High Representative Josep Borrell has congratulated brave journalists, camera crews, reporters, photographers and bloggers on behalf of the EU, saying that they are “risking their lives to keep us informed about Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine”.
“Russian forces are detaining, abducting or kidnapping and targeting journalists and civil society actors to prevent the world from hearing the truth,” J. Borrell said. “We strongly urge the Russian Federation to immediately stop such attacks and practices.”
According to the Council of Europe platform for the protection of journalism and safety of journalists, ten Ukrainian and international media workers have already been killed, and many others were wounded.
J. Borrell said the safety of journalists was an EU priority,adding that the EU is providing emergency support to media outlets and journalists covering the war in Ukraine, including psychological support, helmets and other protective equipment, as well as financing to cover salaries.
“By reporting from the front lines and shedding light on the gross human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law committed by the Russian armed forces, journalists importantly contribute to counter disinformation and information manipulation surrounding the invasion,” said J. Borrell. “They play a crucial role in ensuring that these atrocities do not remain unpunished.”
J. Borrell also noted the courage of independent journalists in Russia and Belarus, who are trying to convey accurate information about Russian aggression against Ukraine.
PACE spring session: the consequences of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine
Strasbourg, 14.04.2022 - A general policy debate on the consequences of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine will be at the centre of the spring plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), to be held in hybrid format from 25 to 28 April 2022.
In the context of this aggression, there has also been a request for an urgent debate on ensuring accountability for serious violations of international humanitarian law.
Sergio Mattarella, President of the Italian Republic, is due to address the Assembly at midday on Wednesday, and will answer questions from the parliamentarians.
The Assembly also debates reports on strengthening the strategic partnership between the Council of Europe and the EU, safeguarding and promoting genuine democracy in Europe, and on how to put confiscated criminal assets to good use.
Also on the agenda are reports on combating children’s exposure to pornographic content, on the deinstitutionalisation of persons with disabilities, on preventing excessive and unjustified use of force by law enforcement officers, on tackling discrimination based on social origin, and on the honouring of obligations and commitments by Georgia.
Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, will also present her annual activity report for 2021, and take questions from the parliamentarians. Marija Pejčinović Burić, the Council of Europe Secretary General, holds the usual question time with PACE members.
Benedetto Della Vedova, Undersecretary of State at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, will present the Communication from the Committee of Ministers in the framework of Italy’s Council of Europe Presidency.
The Assembly will decide its final agenda on the first day of the session.
of the PACE