Sanctions policy

Sanctions – also referred to as restrictive measures – against third countries, individuals or entities, are an essential EU foreign policy tool that it uses to pursue objectives in accordance with the principles of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. Certain EU measures are imposed by Resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The EU may however decide to apply autonomous measures in addition to the UN's measures or adopt restrictive measures autonomously.

In general terms, the EU imposes its restrictive measures to bring about a change in policy or activity by the target country, part of a country, government, entities or individuals. They are a preventive, non-punitive, instrument which should allow the EU to respond swiftly to political challenges and developments.

Sanctions should be used as part of an integrated and comprehensive policy approach, in the framework of the European Union's overall foreign policy strategies, involving political dialogue, complementary efforts and other instruments.

The measures should target the policies or actions that have prompted the EU's decision to impose sanctions and the means to conduct them, and those identified as responsible for these policies or actions. Such targeted measures should minimise adverse consequences for those not responsible for such policies and actions, in particular the local civilian population, and for those carrying out legitimate activities in or with the country concerned. The political objectives and criteria of the restrictive measures should be clearly defined in the legal acts.

Restrictive measures must respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular due process and the right to an effective remedy in full conformity with the jurisprudence of the EU Courts.

The uniform and consistent interpretation and effective implementation of the restrictive measures is essential to ensuring their effectiveness in achieving the desired political objective.

EU autonomous sanctions or EU additions to UN sanctions are reviewed at regular intervals to ensure measures are adjusted as needed, in line with developments affecting the stated objectives and the effectiveness of the measures.