A deal was reached between the European Parliament and the Council today on the new Directive on the definition of criminal offences and penalties for the violation of Union restrictive measures. The aim of the Renew Europe group has been to achieve the highest possible level of harmonisation and effective implementation of the provision in national criminal law, as a step to end the impunity for those violating sanctions following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Unfortunately, the Council was not willing to meet a majority of the points put forward by the European Parliament, forcing a deal without much harmonisation between Member States.
However, each day without this Directive being put in place helps Putin’s war efforts. In light of the current geopolitical situation, it is crucial that a deal on the Directive was closed to ensure that the EU can give Ukraine the full support it deserves. The criminal assets confiscated in the context of circumvention of EU sanctions against Russia will be used for the reconstruction of Ukraine, in a step to pay back the Ukrainian people.
The Member States will now have to put this crucial piece of legislation into use within the coming year, giving a big political signal to the people of Ukraine. The Renew Europe is calling on the Member States to enforce and implement the law very strictly and on the Commission to closely follow up and start infringement procedures where the law is not applied.
Sophie in 't Veld (Netherlands), the European Parliament's rapporteur for the report on 'Directive on the Definition of Criminal Offences and Penalties for the Violation of Union restrictive measures', said:
“EU sanctions are meant to punish Russian aggression. Today we need to send a strong signal to our Ukrainian friends that we intend to keep pursuing this objective, by agreeing to the draft Directive. The criminalisation of the violation of restrictive measures will help us seizing the assets of persons targeted by sanctions and their helpers. It is a pity that the we could not get the member states to eliminate the uneven enforcement of sanctions. We have to be honest, this Directive will in itself not prevent violations as described in Cyprus Confidential.”