EU faces fresh calls to take ‘clear and resolute action’ against Vladimir Putin

A parliamentary debate with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will see Russia again at the forefront of deliberations for MEPs on Wednesday.
Vladimir Putin

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

28 Apr 2021

A parliamentary debate with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will examine Alexei Navalny’s imprisonment and treatment, Russian military build-up on the Ukraine border and the recent Czechia-Russia diplomatic row, as well as the recent Chinese sanctions against several European entities and politicians.

The debate will be followed by a resolution which is expected to strongly condemn Russia.

A spokesman for the EPP said the group “believes that it is Europe’s collective duty to reaffirm its support for Ukraine and calls on Member States and the Commission to take clear and resolute action against Russia in the case of further escalation.”

This, he said, should happen by immediately suspending imports of Russian oil and gas, halting the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, excluding Russia from the SWIFT system and freezing Russian oligarchs’ accounts and banning them from entering the EU.

His comments were echoed by the ECR, whose group spokesman said, “Russian policies are clearly and increasingly hostile towards Euro-Atlantic security interests and must be firmly addressed.”

Further comment came from Croatian Socialist Tonino Picula, who said his group was “extremely worried” by the Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s border and in annexed Crimea.

He added, “Whatever Russia’s intentions are, it must have no doubt that the EU and its transatlantic partners remain unwaveringly committed to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and will not allow Moscow's deliberate destabilisation of neighbouring Ukraine for domestic reasons.”

“Russian policies are clearly and increasingly hostile towards Euro-Atlantic security interests and must be firmly addressed” ECR Group spokesman

The MEP went on, “We will also call for a strong EU reaction and solidarity over the Russian attack in the Czech Republic. Our attention is also focused on Navalny whose life is in danger who must urgently be granted medical treatment that he and the international community can trust and be released. We call for close cooperation with the US administration on these issues.”

Turkey is also on the parliamentary menu and EPP leader Manfred Weber said, “We are extremely concerned that commitments on visas or customs were made in Ankara last week without concrete and durable changes to Turkey's policy in the Eastern Mediterranean, towards Cyprus and our external borders. These issues need to be clarified.”

In a debate on Wednesday MEPs are also set to give a green light to new rules preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online, obliging internet platforms to remove flagged content or disable access to it in all Member States within one hour of a takedown request.

ECR MEP Patryk Jaki said his report on the issue aims to “counter the spread of extremist ideologies online, for example, by ensuring that online platforms play a more active role in detecting terrorist content and that it can be removed within an hour.”

“The new regulation will also ensure that national authorities and online platforms will be equipped to limit the harm caused by illegal content quickly. Everything that’s illegal offline will also be illegal online in the future.”

Commenting on this, Socialist member Marina Kaljurand said, “In today’s world, the fight against terrorism is now as much online as it is offline. This week Parliament will vote on a real breakthrough in the online fight against terrorism, which introduces clear rules that make sure hosting service providers like Google or Facebook remove online terrorist content as quickly as possible. This new law strengthens our security while safeguarding fundamental rights and freedoms.”

She added, “Our group has made sure that there is no obligation to use automated filtering, that educational, journalistic, artistic or research content will be protected, and that Member State authorities where the hosting service provider is located will have the final word on removing content.”

“Whatever Russia’s intentions are, it must have no doubt that the EU and its transatlantic partners remain unwaveringly committed to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and will not allow Moscow's deliberate destabilisation of neighbouring Ukraine for domestic reasons”

Tonino Picula, S&D

In a packed programme, Parliament is also set to adopt new rules that would better protect and assist train travellers, by guaranteeing rerouting and helping passengers when their train is delayed or cancelled.

The new law will also improve access and assistance to people with reduced mobility and will help the introduction of more dedicated spaces for bicycles on trains.

MEPs will also discuss and vote on a wide range of EU programmes, such as the Horizon Europe research programme, the programme for Environment and Climate Action, the Civil Protection Mechanism and the EU Anti-Fraud Programme.

This also includes a debate on ECR MEP's Zdzisław Krasnodębski's report on the European Defence Fund. The EDF, with an agreed budget of €7.953bn, aims to support collaborative actions and cross-border cooperation throughout the EU.

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