According to Latvian public news portal

New restrictions come into force on Monday, September 19 that are designed to prevent Russian nationals with Schengen tourist visas from entering or transiting the Baltic States. Poland, too, is enacting similar restrictions. [...]

At an informal meeting of in Prague on 30-31 August [...] a common understanding was achieved among the EU Foreign Ministers that countries bordering on Russia could impose national-level restrictions on entry into the EU, ad that is what most of the countries meeting that criteria have chosen to do. In Finland, debate on the matter is ongoing.

Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania have agreed on their own regional solution so that, pending collective EU action, traveller flows from Russia can be effectively and promptly restricted, thereby reducing security risks. The decision has been adopted in a concerted manner, in cooperation between Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, and it takes effect simultaneously in the three Baltic States on 19 September 2022 and are of indefinite duration.

It's followed by a list of Schengen visas still allowed, which seems to not include tourists, as per the summary.

Back in the summer, a number of law bloggers had expressed the opinion that some kinds of blanket bans like not issuing any visas to Russians would illegal in the EU. One catch I see with that argumentation is that the aforementioned countries don't seem to not issue visas (by this measure), but essentially plan to not admit persons with some kinds of visas. That possibility (which frankly seemed far more likely/practical) is alas not dissected in that blog.

So have there been any legal challenges announced against this measure? If so on what basis (and by whom)?


1 Answer 1



EU member states can refuse to issue visas based on threats to public policy, internal security. Visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right. EU member states can also coordinate their decisions on whom they allow to enter their territory (source). Since air travel has became limited, the Baltics have been a major staging post for those traveling from Russia and Belarus so they think they have right to limit this traffic.

The claim this is illegal and contradicts fundamental human rights seems circulating around as well but looks more like PR, same as claims that most of other sanctions are illegal. At least nobody worth listening (and "a number of law bloggers" do not count) ever told to the Eastern Europe, "no, you are not allowed to do this".

Western states and politicians that are against the global visa ban have completely different arguments. They think that retaining some integration with Western world may contribute more to the respect of the pro-western values than the total ban and rejection. That opponents of the war can enter as tourists and then do something else. They oppose the view that "it just cannot be good Russians, we will just beat them in a battlefield". There are more important goals to achieve than just a revenge.

  • 2
    "refuse to issue visas" is not what question asks about.
    – alamar
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 9:23
  • Does this address travel between Schengen states, as blocking transits by Russians from Germany via Poland to Lithuania would require border checks at internal Schengen borders.
    – James K
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 9:25
  • 1
    @JamesK nothing in the press release suggests internal controls.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 9:34
  • "from entering or transiting" These phrases don't exclude "entering from another schlengen country", and "transiting" seems to suggest internal controls. Howeve that my just be the press release, not the fact on the ground.
    – James K
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 10:39
  • @phoog: not that that can't be imposed in a (bigger) emergency, like Germany etc. did in 2015. (And the Commission okayed that.) Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 19:40

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