As part of the European Union’s united response to state-sponsored instrumentalisation of people at the EU’s external border with Belarus, the Commission and High Representative propose today measures to prevent and restrict the activities of transport operators that engage in or facilitate smuggling or trafficking of people into the EU. This will add a new instrument to the EU’s toolbox for supporting Member States affected by such hybrid attacks. Other forms of support notably humanitarian assistance should accompany any measures taken under this instrument.
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “Attempts to destabilise the EU by instrumentalising people will not work. The EU is united and taking various actions to resolve the situation at the EU’s external borders with Belarus. Today, we are presenting a new proposal to blacklist transport operators involved in smuggling or trafficking of people into the EU, as I first announced two weeks ago. We will never accept the exploitation of human beings for political purposes.”
Targeted measures for transport operators that facilitate or engage in smuggling
Recent events at the EU’s border with Belarus could not have taken place without certain transport operators knowingly or unknowingly contributing to the exploitation of people, with a vast humanitarian toll and at a high cost to security at the EU’s external borders and stability in the region.
To ensure that the EU has the appropriate tools in place to combat the instrumentalisation of people for political purposes, the Commission is proposing a new legal framework allowing the EU to adopt targeted measures against transport operators of any mode of transport (land, air, inland waterways and sea), that engage in or facilitate smuggling or trafficking of people into the European Union. Measures would be proportionate and determined on a case-by-case basis. The type of measures could include the limitation of operations in the Union market, the suspension of licenses or authorisations, the suspension of the rights to refuel or carry out maintenance within the EU, and the prohibition to transit or fly over the EU, make technical stops or call into EU ports.