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Refusing Russian tourists is only possible at European level

In the wake of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, several European countries want to introduce entry bans for Russian nationals. But can they just do that?

Jorrit Rijpma

Russian tourists still come to Europe for holidays, even though the airspace is closed to Russian aircraft. They do this by applying for a visa for a border area, travelling there by land and then catching a plane to a subsequent destination. In response, Finland has indicated that it will limit the number of Schengen visas to Russian nationals, and Estonia has decided to close its borders to Russian travellers. But can an individual European country simply refuse Russian travellers?

According to Jorrit Rijpma, Professor of European Law, this is not possible. ‘This kind of decision can only be taken at the European level’, Rijpma says to Dutch news programme EenVandaag. ‘We have a common visa policy. So a Dutch Schengen visa gives access to all Schengen countries. It’s therefore not up to one of the Baltic Member States to refuse entry to a specific country.' Should all European Member States agree on a ban, Europe could, however, jointly deny entry to Russian nationals. But then the Member States would have to reach consensus first.

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