Apparently, the wide public attention raised in European countries, as well as in Russia, by the release on 8 September 2023 of further clarifications on the application of the ban on import into the EU of certain goods from our country and the extremely negative reaction provoked by the contrary to common sense "recommendations" of the Brussels bureaucracy to the European capitals forced the European Commission to amend the relevant "Frequently Asked Questions" document on 12 September 2023.
The updated clarifications state that the motor vehicles, which are subject to an import ban into the EU under Article 3i of EU Council Regulation 833/2014, are particularly prone to the risk of “circumvention” of EU restrictive measures. Therefore, as long as the vehicles are falling under CN code 8703, “originating in” or “are being exported” from Russia, it is not relevant whether they are imported into the EU for private or commercial use, or under which customs procedures they are being placed.
At the same time, the European Commission believes that certain sanctioned goods listed in Annex XXI to Regulation 833/2014, like personal hygiene items or clothing “worn by travellers or contained in their luggage and clearly destined for a strict personal use during their trip” raise insignificant circumvention concerns. For such goods national competent authorities should continue to apply the prohibition “in a proportionate and reasonable manner”.
At first glance, it may seem that the European Commission's lawyers have attempted to mitigate the absurdity of the previous clarifications by formulating a more nuanced response. Yet, they have made it even worse. The updated "instructions" require the competent authorities of Member States to essentially hold an interrogation against Russians each time to determine whether the items are imported "for a strict personal use during their trip".
Clearly, all this fuss is driven by a desire to remove inconsistencies in the sanctions provisions that could lead to serious disagreements between Member States over their implementation. What matters to us is that easing restrictions against Russians is definitely not on the agenda.