March 25, 2024

EU proposes new rule to standardize sanctions enforcement

On March 12, 2024, the European Parliament announced the adoption of a new directive making it a criminal offense to violate or circumvent EU sanctions.  The directive sets consistent definitions for what constitutes a sanctions violation in the European Union as well as minimum penalties for these violations.

According to the Parliament, the directive is intended to ensure that sanctions violations are enforced evenly throughout the European Union, in an effort to prevent the current practice of forum shopping that has enabled violators to seek out member states with the weakest enforcement.  In addition to addressing intentional sanctions violations, the directive also criminalizes the trade in arms or dual-use items, in cases of serious negligence.  The directive also contains stronger punishments for sanctions violations and circumvention,  prison sentences of a maximum of five years in all member states.

Before the directive can become law, it must be formally approved by the Council of the European Union.  Once approved, the directive will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.  Member states will then have one year from the date of publication to transpose the rules into national legislation.

European Parliament Press Release | Proposal for a Director – Amendment by the European Parliament