The EU should tax Western companies still doing business in Russia and use the proceeds to help Ukraine, a senior EU official told Brussels Playbook.
“We still have companies that don’t care and remain in Russia. Why don’t we talk about taxing them?” said Virginjus Sinkevičius, the EU commissioner in charge of environmental affairs.
European countries recently signed off on a €50 billion aid package for Ukraine, but that money already appears insufficient to fill the country’s budget gap given that U.S. aid for Kyiv is being held up by Republican lawmakers.
Instead of appealing to EU taxpayers to fill the gap, which could embolden populists, the bloc should seize Russia’s frozen assets and start taxing Western companies that continue to operate in Russia despite sanctions, said Sinkevičius.
“I think it is very important to find sources of funding that would use as little as possible from the European taxpayer,” said the commissioner via telephone as he made his way to Kyiv, where he will be unveiling plans to prosecute crimes against the environment. “We need to have a long-term plan here. Russia is biding its time, waiting for Europe and the U.S. to get tired and for the populists to take over. That plan has to include funding that comes from frozen assets or taxes.”
Despite pleas from several EU states including Lithuania, Sinkevičius’ home country, plans to use frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine are stuck. Large EU states such as France and Germany have warned of adverse effects from confiscating Russian assets and using them to help Ukraine.
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