Members' Research Service By / July 11, 2023

Proposal for a directive on the violation of Union restrictive measures [EU Legislation in Progress]

European Union (EU) restrictive measures (or sanctions) are imposed under the framework of the common foreign and security policy (CFSP), in order to promote the EU’s objectives on the international stage, which include safeguarding the EU’s values, fundamental interests and security; preserving peace and strengthening international security; and consolidating and supporting democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the principles of international law.

© Vitalii Vodolazskyi / Adobe Stock

Written by Carmen-Cristina Cîrlig (1st edition).

The European Union (EU) has established over 40 regimes of sanctions against third countries, entities, and legal and natural persons. These restrictive measures include arms embargoes, import and export bans, freezing of funds and economic resources, and travel bans. Whereas the adoption of EU sanctions is centralised at EU level, their implementation and enforcement lies with the Member States. The significant differences between national systems, particularly in terms of offences and penalties for breaches of EU sanctions, are thought to weaken their efficacy and the EU’s credibility.

Following the Council’s decision to add the violation of EU sanctions to the areas of ‘particularly serious crime with a cross-border dimension’, the European Commission issued, in December 2022, a proposal for a directive to harmonise criminal offences and penalties for such violations.

On 9 June, the Council adopted its general approach. In the European Parliament, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs adopted its report on the proposal on 6 July 2023, along with a decision to enter into trilogue negotiations.


Proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the definition of criminal offences and penalties for the violation of Union restrictive measures
Committee responsible:Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE)COM(2022) 684
Rapporteur:Sophia In’t Veld (Renew, the Netherlands)2022/0398(COD)
Shadow rapporteurs:Leopoldo López Gil (EPP, Spain)
Thijs Reuten (S&D, the Netherlands)
Saskia Bricmont (Greens/EFA, Belgium)
Patryk Jaki (ECR, Poland)
Anders Vistisen (ID, Denmark)
Clare Daly (The Left, Ireland)
Ordinary legislative procedure
(COD) (Parliament and Council
on equal footing – formerly ‘co-decision’)
Next steps expected: Trilogue negotiations
EU Legislation in progress timeline

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