(Source: Council of the EU and European Council)
The Council today requested the European Parliament’s consent on 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 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. Currently member states have very 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.
A unanimous decision to add the violation of restrictive measures to the list of ‘EU crimes’ will allow, as a second step, the adoption of a directive containing minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and penalties for the violation of EU restrictive measures. This will ensure a similar degree of sanctions enforcement throughout the EU and will dissuade attempts to circumvent or violate EU measures.
The draft text will now be sent to the European Parliament for its consent. Once the Parliament has given its consent and internal national procedures have been finalised, the decision can be formally adopted unanimously by the Council.
Under article 83(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, the 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 25 May 2022, the European Commission presented a proposal for a decision to extend the list of these areas of crime to include the violation of restrictive measures adopted by the EU.