The Council of the EU recently decided to extend its Lebanon-related sanctions framework for one year, until July 31, 2023. The framework, which was originally adopted on July 30, 2021, enables the Council to impose targeted restrictive measures against individuals and entities responsible for undermining the democracy or the rule of law in Lebanon, including efforts to undermine democratic political processes or the holding of elections; obstruct plans by Lebanese authorities to improve accountability in the public sector or make critical economic reforms; or involve serious financial misconduct of public funds and the unauthorized export of capital. The sanctions regime authorizes the imposition of restrictive measures, including travel bans and asset freezes, and also forbids EU persons from making funds available to those listed.
Sanctions were originally imposed to address the declining economic, social and humanitarian situation in Lebanon that was discovered in late 2020, which has caused the Lebanese population to suffer increasing difficulties. At that time, the Council adopted conclusions that highlighted the need for Lebanon to form a “credible and accountable” government capable of carrying out necessary reforms to address the crisis. The Council decided on July 26, 2022 to extend the sanctions regime because of ongoing concerns that Lebanese people continue to suffer despite the timely holding of a general election on May 15, 2022 that has failed to result in the formation of a fully-fledged government and a recently signed Staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that has not yet been converted into a disbursing agreement with the IMF.