The European Parliament agreed on Thursday not to accept travel documents that Russia has issued in the areas it illegally occupies in Ukraine and Georgia.
By 540 votes in favour, 6 against and 36 abstaining, the European Parliament approved its mandate for negotiations with the Council on a legislative proposal on the non-recognition of travel documents issued by Russia in occupied Ukrainian regions and so-called breakaway territories of Georgia, for the purpose of issuing a visa or when crossing the EU’s external borders.
MEPs note that the Russian annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine is illegal, and that the EU has condemned Russia’s decision to recognise the independence of the so-called breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia. Therefore, EU member states and EEA allies should no longer accept travel documents issued by Russia in these regions. According to the proposal, the Commission should consult EU member states and draw up a list of Russian travel documents that should not be accepted going forward, say MEPs.
Right to enter the EU on humanitarian grounds
After agreeing to fast-track the proposal, MEPs adopted amendments to the Council’s position. They would like to emphasise everyone’s right to flee the conflict in Ukraine and to enter the EU on humanitarian grounds. The Parliament’s position also empowers the Commission to add new regions to the list of occupied territories or remove them via delegated acts -which do not require a vote by the co-legislators, but to which both the Council and the Parliament may object-. In this regard, MEPs ask the Commission to involve the Parliament and Council at an early stage when preparing these delegated acts.
Parliament and Council will now negotiate on the final form of the act. Once adopted by both institutions and published in the Official Journal of the EU, it will enter into force on the day after its publication.
Russia has been issuing passports to residents of Crimea since the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014, and it is currently doing so in other non-government-controlled areas of Ukraine. The non-recognition of these Russian passports would apply when someone requests a visa to enter the EU or when they cross the EU’s external borders.
According to the Commission, almost all member states have already notified it that they do not accept Russian passports issued in the occupied foreign regions. The proposal aims for a coordinated, consistent approach and for legal certainty.