Madrid’s position on sanctions enforcement, according to media reports, is that only direct arrivals require baggage screening in accordance with EU rules.
The Spanish Tax Agency (AEAT), which is also responsible for the country’s customs controls, does not intend to confiscate the personal belongings of Russian travelers, Russian news agency TASS reports.
Last week, the EU urged member states to closely monitor Russian tourists to avoid possible sanctions. The European Commission’s initial guidelines stated that even items such as shampoo and clothing should be subject to inspection and possible seizure, but it later acknowledged that personal goods pose low risks of customs evasion.
Madrid said its agents will not confiscate cell phones, jewelry and items that Russian travelers bring in their luggage unless they arrive directly from Russia, according to an explanation cited Thursday by TASS. Seizures will, however, still be possible if problems arise that are not related to sanctions.
Spain has no land border with Russia and no direct flights between Russia and the EU have been available since the early weeks of the Ukraine conflict. Brussels has restricted trade with Moscow as part of the US-led economic pressure campaign.
The first reading of the EU policy, which implied that Russians could even be forced to undress before crossing the border, sparked outrage at home. Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, accused the bloc of protesting “racism.”
Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have imposed a ban on cars registered in Russia, after reaching a joint decision on how to follow instructions from Brussels. Estonian Interior Minister Lauri Laanemetsa has said he supports a crackdown on vehicles with Russian license plates that are already in his country.
The EU’s interpretation is that “These vehicles should be confiscated and no longer be able to leave Europe,” he said at a news conference Thursday.
“I wonder why these cars with Russian license plates are driving in Estonia or why someone who lives in Estonia owns a car with a Russian license plate,” added the minister.