The Council of the EU recently amended the scope of Belarus-related sanctions to broaden the listing criteria for Belarus-designations in order to address the Belarusian regime’s orchestrated instrumentalisation of human beings involving the practice by Belarus of armed security forces to approach EU borders with groups of migrants in an effort to force illegal entries. The amendment, which was adopted on November 15, 2021, enables the EU to target individuals and entities, including airlines, travel agencies and other intermediaries, that engage in or contribute to Lukashenko regime’s efforts to facilitate illegal border-crossings into EU member states. This action is in line with the EU’s November 9, 2021 decision to partially suspend the EU-Belarus Visa Facilitation Agreement to prevent Belarusian government officials from reaping its benefits.
On November 23, 2021, the European Commission and the High Representative also proposed a new legal framework that would allow the EU to adopt targeted measures against transport operators of any kind that engage in or facilitate the smuggling or trafficking of people into the EU at the Belarus-EU border. The imposition of measures would be determined on a case-by-case basis and be proportionate to the transport operators’ offense. The new measures could include limits on the ability to operate in the Union market, the suspension of licenses/authorizations and rights to refuel or receive maintenance assistance in the EU, and bans on the ability to transit or fly over the EU or make technical stops or ports of call in the EU.
The Council also reports that it has allocated €700,000 in humanitarian assistance for refugees and migrants stranded in Belarus, located both inside the country and at the borders, and has provided border and migration management support to Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, in particular, including emergency monetary support and the deployment of equipment, experts under the Civil Protection Mechanism for the improvement of asylum and return procedures and reception conditions in these Member States.
European Commission Press Release – November 23, 2021 | EU actions to counter state-sponsored instrumentalisation of migrants at the EU external border | European Council Press Release – November 15, 2021