MEPs join protest in support of Ukranians, call for more sanctions

MEPs say EU countries with golden passport schemes should review all beneficiaries of such residence status

Roberta Metsola joined a demonstration in solidarity with Ukraine outside the European Parliament in Brussels, 1 March 2022
Roberta Metsola joined a demonstration in solidarity with Ukraine outside the European Parliament in Brussels, 1 March 2022

European Parliament president Roberta Metsola emerged from the EP’s hemicycle into a crowd of protestors who gathered to demonstrate against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Brussels.

Metsola thanked all for coming to the demonstration.

“Europe is with you today, we will be with you tomorrow and we will not leave your side. We are here in the EP in the house of democracy and in this House we will work to find a space for you to send a message that is so much needed to the world.

“We hear your European aspirations loudly and clearly and when you look to this house you will find a friend and an ally throughout the whole process because we must face the future together. I give you our commitment for that.

“And we know that the courage and the bravery of the people of Ukraine, this will be a long and prosperous future, you have inspired the world, your strength of purpose, your defiance, your values have lit up a spark across the globe,” Metsola said.

The Ukrainian National anthem was played and MEPs stood in silence when it ended, with Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ ending the event, the official anthem of the European Union adopted in 1985.

In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, MEPs demand tougher sanctions on Russia and new efforts to grant Ukraine EU candidate status.

In a resolution adopted on Tuesday, Parliament condemns in the strongest possible terms Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and demands that the Kremlin end all military activities in the country. It also denounces the role of Belarusian dictator Aliaksandr Lukashenka in the assault.

MEPs categorically reject the Russian “rhetoric hinting at the possible resort to weapons of mass destruction”, while reminding Russia of its international obligations and warning of the dangers of a nuclear escalation of the conflict.

They also call on the European Commission and EU countries to provide further emergency humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, in cooperation with UN humanitarian agencies and other international partner organisations.

The text was approved by 637 votes in favour, 13 against with 26 abstentions.

Working towards EU candidate status for Ukraine

The resolution calls on the EU institutions to work towards granting the country EU candidate status. Any such procedure should be in line with Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union and based on merit, the text says. In the meantime, the EU should continue to work towards Ukraine’s integration into the EU single market along the lines of the existing EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.

While welcoming the swift adoption of EU sanctions, MEPs want to see broader restrictive measures aimed at strategically weakening the Russian economy and industrial base.

In particular, imports of the most important Russian export goods, such as oil and gas should be restricted, they say. New EU investment in Russia and new Russian investment in the EU should be banned. All Russian banks should be blocked from the European financial system and Russia should be banned from the SWIFT system.

A range of sanctions, including the SWIFT ban, should be extended to Belarus based on its direct support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In addition, the text calls on EU countries to provide Ukraine with defensive weapons more swiftly, in line with Article 51 of the UN Charter, which allows for individual and collective self-defence. It also favours increased EU intelligence cooperation with Ukraine regarding the ongoing aggression.

Parliament also welcomed the EU’s commitment to activate its Temporary Protection Directive, in order to provide all Ukrainians fleeing war with immediate access to protection.

Targeted sanctions against individuals responsible for high-level corruption in Russia and Belarus as well as oligarchs and officials close to the countries’ leadership should be adopted swiftly, MEPs demanded.

EU and allied countries with residence by investment schemes (so-called “golden visas”) should also review all beneficiaries of such residence status and revoke those attributed to Russian high-net-worth individuals and their families, in particular those linked to sanctioned individuals and companies, says the text.

Ewropej Funded by the European Union

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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