The European Parliament is unhappy with the practice of confiscating personal vehicles registered in Russia in the name of sanctions compliance, and are urging for a review of the guidelines. In a recent joint motion published on Wednesday, MEPs called on the EU’s executive body to reconsider its interpretation of sanctions that lead to the seizure and confiscation of items and vehicles for personal use only. This move comes after the European Commission issued a clarification in September that condoned such measures. Lawmakers warned that such over-compliance discredits the goal and instrument of sanctions.
The European Commission declined to reveal if it was going to revise its guidelines published in early September when asked for comment by RIA Novosti. In these guidelines, vehicles having a Russian license plate and registered in Russia are considered off limits in the EU and can be seized if found inside the bloc. Such actions are considered irrelevant to whether the use of the vehicles is private or commercial as long as they fall into the sanctioned goods category, according to officials at the time.
Additionally, Russian nationals are prohibited from taking a wide range of personal items, including hygiene products, when traveling to the EU.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denounced Brussels’ guidelines as blatant racism.
The European Parliament’s outcry regarding the confiscation of vehicles comes after German authorities had impounded vehicles with Russian license plates, citing sanctions imposed on Moscow over its actions in Ukraine. Following this, the European nations of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Finland, Norway, Germany, and Bulgaria have withheld entry to vehicles with Russian registration, with a few exceptions. Late last month, the Latvian parliament passed a bill to seize vehicles with Russian license plates if not registered in the Baltic nation or removed from the country within three months. The confiscated vehicles are planned to be handed over to Ukraine. Transit through Latvia would still be permitted, as long as it did not exceed 24 hours. Additionally, diplomatic vehicles would be exempt from this ruling. Moscow daily Izvestia reported that Czech authorities had also confiscated at least one car with a Russian license plate.
The European Parliament’s call for a review in interpretation of the sanctions reflects the ongoing tensions between Russia and the European Union and consistent friction between the two powers. This issue of seizing personal vehicles could further exacerbate the strained relationship and will likely continue to be a controversial matter.
The uproar against the seizure of personal vehicles presents a complex situation that has raised concerns regarding the effectiveness and appropriateness of such measures. The growth in the imposition of sanctions between Russia and Europe has resulted in increased tensions and is likely to have further implications for international relations. As the issue unfolds, it will be important to monitor the developments and responses from both sides.