Answer to Written Question: Envisaging a recast of the Blocking Statute

(Source: European Parliament)



Answer given by Ms McGuinness

on behalf of the European Commission


The EU considers the extraterritorial application of sanctions contrary to international law and has expressed its opposition to the unilateral use of extra-territorial sanctions on many occasions.

Council Regulation (EC) No 2271/96 (“the Blocking Statute”) is an important achievement of unified EU action to protect EU operators, whether individuals or companies, from the extra-territorial application of third country laws. Adopted in 1996, the EU amended it in 2018 after the United States (US) withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. It currently applies to certain US sanctions against Cuba and Iran. The Blocking Statute is proving useful by preventing the enforcement of any foreign judgements or decisions based on the extra-territorial application of these US sanctions. Furthermore, the Blocking Statute allows EU economic operators to recover damages.

On 19 January 2021, the Commission published a strategy[1] to stimulate the openness, strength and resilience of the EU’s economic and financial system for the years to come. This strategy aims to better enable Europe to play a leading role in global economic governance, while protecting the EU from unfair and abusive practices.

In line with that strategy, the Commission is considering additional policy options, including reflecting on a possible amendment of Regulation (EC) No 2271/96, to further deter and counteract the unlawful extra-territorial application of unilateral sanctions by third countries to EU operators.

[1] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European central bank, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: The European economic and financial system: fostering openness, strength and resilience, COM/2021/32 final.

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