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European Union Sanctions 


As it is mentioned in the preamble of the Treaty on the European Union, one of the objectives of the European Union (EU) is to implement a common foreign and security policy. Following the modifications made by the Treaty of Lisbon, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the EU is now led by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (High Representative). The High Representative presides over the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) which in turn is in charge of the EU External Action. To fulfill her/his duties in carrying out the CFSP, the High Representative enjoys the help of the European External Action Service (EEAS)

EU uses different tools (or legal instruments as the Council calls them) to achieve its CFSP objectives. One of its favorite tools is the use of restrictive measures (or sanctions). Although it has no limitation in choosing the type of restrictive measure it chooses, the EU has chosen some types of measures more frequently, including:

  • Trade Restrictions: Comprehensive or partial restrictions or restrictions concerning specific sectors on trade activities. It could both export and import goods or services. 

    • Arms Embargo: A type of trade restriction, arms embargos, are full or partial prohibition on the sale or transfer of arms, weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned and technical advice, assistance, or training related to military activities.

  • Financial SanctionsVarious financial restrictions namely:

    • Freezing of assets belonging to listed persons or entities

    • Restrictions on investment 

    • Restrictions of provision of financial services to a listed person or a jurisdiction 

  • Travel Resuscitations: Restrictions on the admission of listed persons: targeted persons cannot enter the EU, or travel beyond their member state of nationality if they are EU citizens.

Such measures could be used against governments, entities, individuals, groups, or organizations. Contrary to the US sanctions, there are no vessels, planes, or digital valets among the current EU sanction targets.

According to the European Council and the Council of the European Union, the objective of such measures are:

  • Safeguarding EU values, fundamental interests, and security,

  • Preserving peace,

  • Consolidating and supporting democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and the principles of international law, and

  • Preventing conflicts and strengthening international security. 

To know more about EU sanctions, click on the below sections. 

Image by Guillaume Périgois

Implementation Process in EU

A brief overview of how sanctions come into effect in EU


Enforcement & Interpretation in EU

Information about some major European regulators as well as information about how courts interpret the sanctions in EU


Current EU Sanction Regimes

A comprehensive and dynamic reference of all the sanction regimes in EU

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