The European Commission has issued new clarifications on the ban on the import of personal belongings by Russians

HRC: “The rules for searching Russians when entering the EU degrade human dignity”

The European Commission has issued new clarifications on the ban on the import of personal belongings by Russians

On September 12, the EC updated the interpretation of Art. 3i about goods for personal use, including those for tourist trips.

The European Commission has released a new FAQ on the implementation of EU Council resolutions on restrictive measures against Russia

This is no longer brief, as it was a few days ago – a whole volume of answers to frequently asked questions is presented. Paragraph 13 of Section V, concerning the import, purchase and transport of goods included in Annex XXI to Article 3i of EU Regulation No. 833/2014 of 31 July 2014, as amended, has undergone major changes.

Firstly, it contained a reference to the case law of the European Court, following which “sanctions must be interpreted broadly, including in order to ensure the effectiveness of the adopted prohibitions and avoid their circumvention,” and each specific situation must be assessed and appropriate decisions must be made directly states.

Secondly, the categorical statement that, with the exception made for citizens of member states of the bloc and their immediate relatives, the import of everything on that very list from Russia is prohibited, has disappeared from the text.

Thirdly, albeit at length, Brussels hinted that travelers’ personal hygiene items and clothing should be treated with understanding.

Translated, this paragraph reads like this:

 “For items that raise minor circumvention concerns, such as personal care items or clothing worn by travelers or in their luggage and clearly intended for strictly personal use during travel, national competent authorities must apply the prohibition in a proportionate and reasonable manner way.”

In other words, it is recommended not to strip Russians naked and not to shake their suitcases in order to remove panties and bras, and then – as the customs officer decides. The European Commission specifically recommends, and does not indicate – there are no such powers.

According to new clarifications dated September 12, national customs authorities of EU countries should first of all focus on the cars of incoming Russians. Here the position is the same: they can allegedly be used to circumvent sanctions, and it does not matter how they are used.

The European Commission still notes that formally Art. 3i prohibits the import into EU countries of any goods from Annex XXI, including passenger cars (customs code 8703), if these goods are exported from Russia.

However, she now emphasizes that “items that are of minor concern from a sanctions evasion perspective, such as personal care items or clothing either worn or in the traveler's luggage” are likely not to be the focus of national customs authorities. In this regard, they must apply the prohibition in a “proportionate and reasonable manner”.

At the same time, the EC clarification again says nothing about smartphones, laptops and cameras, which are also present in Appendix XXI.

On the website of the European Commission in the clarification dated September 8 regarding discriminatory measures against Russians, the ban on the import into the European Union of cars registered in the Russian Federation, as well as personal belongings necessary on the road, is confirmed.

To the question “Can Russian citizens temporarily import personal belongings and vehicles specified in Appendix XXI, which are subject to the prohibition in Art. 3i of Council Regulation 833/2014 to the Union, for example for tourist trips?” the answer follows: “No. There are exceptions only for citizens of EU member states and their immediate relatives.”

At least at risk that the customs authorities of EU countries may not allow the personal belongings of Russians (including tourists) through are such items as cosmetics (HS code 3304), suitcases (4202), laptops (8471), mobile phones (8517), which appear in Appendix XXI to Art. 3i, partner of the Brussels legal firm Acquis, sanctions specialist Yuri Shumilov told RBC.

The sanctions list, among other things, includes almost any footwear, except orthopedic, toy and skating boots (code 6403 ), as well as cosmetics, toothpastes, soaps and shaving products.

The basic document of the European Commission stating that it is prohibited to import an extensive list of goods into the territory of the European Union has been in force since October last year. It is contained in Appendix XXI to Art. 3i of EU Council Regulation No. 833/2014 “On restrictive measures in connection with Russian actions to destabilize the situation in Ukraine.”

The news from the European Commission caused a stormy response in Russia.

Rules for the inspection of Russians entry into the EU degrade human dignity, said the HRC Standing Commission on International Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights.

“Such actions are a deliberate humiliation of human dignity and conscious violation of the basic rights of Russian citizens. And these actions cannot be considered outside the context of the wave of Russophobia that has risen in the European Union recently,” the publication says.

In the Council on Law the person under the President of the Russian Federation was called upon to begin the fight against Russophobia at the legislative level.

It is still unclear how the new clarifications will affect the actions of customs officers and law enforcement officers.

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