Russia must return stolen airplanes, demand MEPs

  • Tighten sanctions on Russia’s transport sector
  • More funds for military mobility within the EU
  • Help tourism to support Ukraine   
MEPs applaud European transport and tourism operators for helping refugees from Ukraine, demand Russia return stolen airplanes and call on the EU to tighten sanctions on Russia.

European transport operators are offering Ukrainian citizens free travel by train, bus, ship or plane and this is highly appreciated, says a resolution on the impact of Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine on the EU transport and tourism sector, adopted by show of hands on Thursday. Transport is a strategic tool for the EU to provide solidarity and support to Ukraine and its people, MEPs add.

They stress that the war in Ukraine has taken its toll on the EU transport sector through rising fuel prices and by disrupting supply chains. MEPs believe that EU transport operators with links to the Russian market should be supported, as they reorient their operations away from Russia.

Aviation and maritime

MEPs are concerned about the severe impact the war is having on the aviation sector, deploring the fact that Russia, in clear breach of international civil aviation rules, has forced airplanes leased from foreign companies to re-register in Russia’s aircraft register. “Such theft cannot be tolerated,” MEPs say, demanding the immediate return of these aircraft to their lawful owners.

The resolution also calls on the EU to further tighten sanctions against the Russian maritime sector and to refuse to allow ships that have docked in Russia on their way to the EU to enter EU ports. In addition, all ships that want to stop at an EU port should be forbidden to re-fuel in Russian ports, the text adds.

Military mobility

The European Council’s decision to drastically cut funds for military mobility was a mistake that undermines European security, MEPs say. They call on the Commission to find a solution to significantly increase the military mobility budget under the Connected Europe Facility programme.

The EU should help member states to develop dual use infrastructure and transport interconnections within the EU, but also with the Western Balkans, Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine, MEPs add, also advocating for the trans-European transport network to be extended to Ukraine and Moldova.

Help tourism to help Ukraine

MEPs also call on EU countries to support hotels and short-term rental services in the EU that are hosting Ukrainian refugees. They ask the Commission to establish an EU temporary financial programme to support tourism companies hiring people fleeing from war.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the current war have shown that an EU Agency for tourism and a European Crisis Management Mechanism urgently need to be established to respond adequately and swiftly to crises of great magnitude, such as pandemics, wars, humanitarian crises and the impact of climate change, MEPs say.