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European multinationals still operating in Russia – next steps

Question écrite de M. Marek BELKA - Commission européenne

Question de M. Marek BELKA,

Diffusée le 11 février 2024

Subject: European multinationals still operating in Russia – next steps

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has not only led the EU to adopt a united approach and agree on many sanctions packages to respond to Putin’s war. It has also led many European companies to leave Russia so that the taxes they pay in Russia do not support Putin’s war effort.

Despite this, many companies – including large, multinational companies – have stayed in Russia. Not only are they undermining the efforts of the EU’s Member States and citizens to cut off Russia from Western funds, they are even compromising our work because they are doing business and paying taxes in Russia, thus aiding Putin.

At a time when our citizens feel the need to support Ukrainians, some European multinationals are supporting Putin’s war machine, prolonging the war.

Commissioner Sinkevičius recently said: ‘We still have companies that don’t care and remain in Russia. Why don’t we talk about taxing them?’

1. Is the Commission considering addressing this irresponsible and mainly profit-oriented behaviour by European multinationals and imposing additional taxes on them?

2. What steps can the Commission take in respect of EU multinationals doing business in Russia to ensure that they leave Russia and stop financially supporting Putin?


Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 1 avril 2024

Answer given by Mr Gentiloni on behalf of the European Commission

(2 April 2024)

EU companies must at all times respect applicable Union restrictive measures, including any sectoral restrictive measures, such as trade restrictions and asset related ones, adopted by the Council.

They could be held liable in case of violations (1). Once the forthcoming Directive on the definition of criminal offences and penalties for the violation of Union restrictive measures enters into force, Member States will be required to adopt rules to criminalise violations of sanctions.

Due to successive packages of sanctions adopted throughout 2022 and 2023, over 60% of EU imports from Russia prior to the invasion have been placed under restrictive measures, covering important sectors such as energy, steel, wood, machinery, vehicles, and metal products.

Throughout 2023, EU overall imports from Russia reached EUR 47 billion, and were down 68% from EUR 145 billion recorded in the same period pre-invasion, in 2021.

The sanctions have also introduced measures on exports of a similarly comprehensive list of goods and technologies. As a result, 58% of EU exports to Russia have been placed under the EU restrictive measures as of December 2023.

Consequently, EU exports to Russia in 2023 were EUR 36 billion, down 56% from EUR 81 billion in the corresponding period of 2021.

The Commission is calling on Member States to ensure full and effective implementation of these sanctions and the prevention of their circumvention as well as for accelerated work to restrict Russia’s access to sensitive items.

The Commission continues to work on ways to restrict the trade in and use of Russian goods to reduce the revenues Russia obtains, directly or indirectly, from the exports of such goods.

To this end, the policy instruments chosen by the Council — import and export restrictions — have been aiming at severing ties with Russia and also of effectively promoting diversification away from Russia.

1 ∙ ⸱ Council Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 of 31 July 2014 concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia's actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine (as

amended), OJ L 229, 31.7.2014, p. 1.

| | ( | | ) In terms of taxation, while respecting the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and any existing secondary Union law, Member States have the competence to design their own tax systems and decide whom to tax.

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