EU adds violation of sanctions to list of EU crimes

European Union ministers unanimously adopted on November 28 a decision to add the violation of restrictive measures to the list of “EU crimes” included in the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, the Council of the EU said in a statement.

The EU has adopted a number of restrictive measures in the context of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and it is essential that these measures are fully implemented, the statement said.

Currently member states have different definitions of what constitutes a violation of restrictive measures and what penalties should be applied in the event of violation.

“This could lead to different degrees of enforcement of sanctions and a risk of these measures being circumvented, potentially allowing sanctioned persons to continue accessing their assets and supporting regimes targeted by EU measures,” the statement said.

The inclusion of the violation of restrictive measures in the list of “EU crimes” is the first of two steps to ensure a similar degree of sanctions enforcement throughout the EU and to dissuade attempts to circumvent or violate EU measures.

Following the adoption of this decision, the European Commission will present a proposal for a directive containing minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and penalties for the violation of EU restrictive measures. This draft directive will then need to be discussed and adopted by the Council and the European Parliament.

Under Article 83(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, the European Parliament and the Council may establish minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in areas of particularly serious crime with a cross-border dimension.

The areas of crime currently listed in this article are terrorism, trafficking in human beings and sexual exploitation of women and children, illicit drug trafficking, illicit arms trafficking, money laundering, corruption, counterfeiting of means of payment, computer crime and organised crime.

On May 25 2022, the European Commission proposed extending the list of these areas of crime to include the violation of restrictive measures adopted by the EU.

(Photo: Bulgarian Ministry of Justice)

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