EU REVIEWS TERRORISM SANCTIONS LIST

On 23 July 2014 the Council of the European Union announced that it has reviewed the list of those subject to sanctions under Regulation (EC) No 2580/2001. The measures are “directed against certain persons and entities with a view to combatting terrorism”.

The Council resolved to remove one person from the list after it found that there were no longer grounds for sanctioning Sofiane Yacine Fahas. The remaining persons and entities, however, will remain subject to an asset freeze after the Council concluded that they “have been involved with terrorist acts”. Ten persons and 25 entities remain subject to restrictive measures under the Regulation.

Both Implementing Regulation (EU) No 125/2004 and Decision 2014/72/CFSP have been repealed and replaced by Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 790/2014 and Council Decision 2014/483/CFSP. A full list of EU sanctions currently in force against terrorist organisations can be found on the ‘sanctions in force’ section of this blog.

 

EU AMENDS FINANCIAL SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAQ

On 23 July 2014, the EU amended the basis of its financial sanctions against Iraq by way of a new Regulation and Decision, which provide clarity on the existing provisions relating to financial sanctions.

Council Regulation (EU) No 791/2014 amends Regulation (EC) No 1210/2003 and provides that the authorities listed in the regulation now have the power to authorise making certain funds and economic resources available if they fall into one of the categories listed below. The Council of the European Union has also adopted Council Decision 2014/484/CFSP, which amends Common Position 2003/495/CFSP. The Decision has inserted the following Article into the Common Position:

“Article 2a:

No funds or economic resources shall be made available, directly or indirectly, to or for the benefit of the persons and entities referred to in Article 2(b).

Exemptions may be made for funds and economic resources which are:

(a) necessary to satisfy basic needs of the persons referred to in Article 2(b), and their dependent family members, including payments for foodstuffs, rent or mortgage, medicines and medical treatment, taxes, insurance premiums, and public utility charges;

(b) intended exclusively for payment of reasonable professional fees and reimbursement of incurred expenses associated with the provision of legal services;

(c) intended exclusively for payment of fees or service charges for routine holding or maintenance of frozen funds and economic resources; or

(d) necessary for extraordinary expenses, provided that the relevant competent authority has notified the grounds on which it considers that a specific authorisation should be granted to the competent authorities of the other Member States and to the Commission at least two weeks prior to the authorisation.”

The changes entered into force on 23 July 2014 with their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. A full list of the sanctions currently in force against Iraq can be found on the ‘sanctions in force’ section of this blog.

EU EXPANDS SYRIA SANCTIONS

On 23 July 2014, the EU imposed further sanctions against Syria. An additional three persons and nine entities are now subject to an asset freeze and travel ban because of their “involvement in the violent repression of the civilian population or their support to the regime”.

The sanctions were implemented by way of a new Regulation and Decision and enter into force on 23 July 2014. A Notice for the attention of those now subject to sanctions has been published in the Official Journal of the EU.

The three individuals now subject to sanctions are Hashim Anwar al-Aqqad, Colonel Suhayl Hasan and Amr Armanazi. The nine entities that have been sanctioned are Oceans Petroleum Trading, Tri Oceans Trading, The Baniyas Refinery Company, The Homs Refinery Company, the Army Supply Bureau, the Industrial Establishment of Defence, the Higher Institute for Applied Sciences and Technology, the National Standards & Calibration Laboratory and El Jazireh.

The move follows the EU’s decision in late June to impose sanctions on 12 Syrian government ministers, as we reported on this blog. The EU has long called for President Assad to step down and the new wave sanctions reflects the EU’s increased frustration at the political deadlock in Syria.

A full list of current sanctions in force against Syria can be found on the ‘sanctions in force’ section of this blog.

EU CONCLUSIONS ON UKRAINE SANCTIONS

The European Union Foreign Affairs Committee met yesterday and agreed:

1) To accelerate the preparation of targeted measures agreed at the special meeting of the European Council on 16 July (see previous blog post), in particular to establish immediately a list of entities and persons, including from the Russian Federation, to be listed under the enhanced criteria adopted by the Council on 18 July.

2) To expand the restrictive measures with a view to targeting individuals or entities who “actively provide material or financial support to or are benefiting from the Russian decision makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea or the destabilisation of Eastern-Ukraine.

3) To adopt additional measures to restrict trade with and investment in Crimea and Sevastopol, at the latest by the end of July.

The Council of the EU also said in its conclusions that it recalled the previous commitments by the European Council and “remains ready to introduce without delay a package of further significant restrictive measures, if full and immediate cooperation on above mentioned demands fail to materialise”. To this end, the Council “requests the Commission and the EEAS to finalise their preparatory work on possible targeted measures and to present proposals for taking action, including on access to capital markets, defence, dual use goods, and sensitive technologies, including in the energy sector. The results of this work will be presented on Thursday, 24th July.

BIS CLARIFIES CRIMEA IMPORT RESTRICTIONS

We previously reported that on 23 June 2014, the European Union prohibited the import of goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol.  See Decision 2014/386 and Regulation 692/2014 (both on the ‘sanctions in force’ section of this blog).  Those measures also introduce a restriction on EU companies providing finance, financial assistance, insurance or re-insurance relating to the import of goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in the UK has just published a Notice to Importers providing further information about the restrictions and derogations.

IRAN JOINT PLAN OF ACTION EXTENDED FOR 4 MONTHS

We reported in November 2013 that Iran had then reached  an agreement with the European Union and the “P5+1″ or “EU3+3″ countries (China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, UK and USA) for a 6 month Joint Plan of Action under which Iran and the E3+3 committed to a number of measures towards lifting sanctions in exchange for undertakings about Iran’s nuclear programme.  This Joint Plan of Action was to last until 20 July 2014.

The E3+3 and Iran have been engaged in negotiations to reach a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme since then.  They have announced today that more time is needed beyond 20 July 2014 “to bridge the differences that remain”. The E3+3 and Iran have agreed to extend the Joint Plan of Action for a further four months, until 24 November 2014.  Today’s Decision implementing this change is here.

HM Treasury’s announcement states that this means that the limited EU sanctions relief under the Joint Plan of Action will remain in place until 24 November 2014. No additional sanctions have been suspended. All other EU sanctions and restrictions remain in place and in force. The sanctions provisions in the Joint Plan of Action are here.

The long term solution, in which the Joint Plan of Action is the first step, aims to result in “the comprehensive lifting of all UN Security Council sanctions, as well as multilateral and national sanctions relating to Iran’s nuclear programme” while ensuring that “Iran’s nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful” and in which Iran “reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek or develop any nuclear weapons”.

The European Union’s sanctions relating to Iran are on the ‘sanctions in force’ section of this blog.

NEW EU SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA IN FORCE

As we foreshadowed on Thursday, the EU agreed to extend its sanctions programme relating to Russia.  Those amendments have now come into force in a new Decision and Regulation published yesterday (19 July 2014) in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The new provisions add to the asset freeze and travel ban in the EU the following categories of people and companies:

 1) Natural persons responsible for, actively supporting or implementing, actions or policies which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, or stability or security in Ukraine or which obstruct the work of international organisations in Ukraine, and natural or legal persons, entities or bodies associated with them.

 2) Legal persons, entities or bodies supporting, materially or financially, actions which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.

 3) Legal persons, entities or bodies in Crimea or Sevastopol whose ownership has been transferred contrary to Ukrainian law, or legal persons, entities or bodies which have benefited from such a transfer.

Britain said on Saturday that a range of further sanctions were available for use against Russia following the “downing” of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. The new UK Defence Secretary, the Right Honourable Michael Fallon MP, said yesterday: “There’s a range of other sanctions available, cutting off more links with Russia. He (Russian President Vladimir Putin) needs to trade with the West and relies on the City of London”.  Meanwhile Russia announced yesterday that it is barring 13 Americans from entering the country, including Representative James Moran.

All EU measures in force relating to Russia / Ukraine (and other countries) are on the ‘sanctions in force’ section of this blog.

2 NEW EU COURT IRAN CASES – NIOC LOSES, MOALLEM INSURANCE WINS

The General Court of the European Union (7th chamber) has annulled the listing Moallem Insurance Co on the EU’s sanctions relating to Iranian proliferation, and rejected the application to annul the listing of the National Iranian Oil Company.

The judgments are here: Case T-182/13 Moallem Insurance Co v Council (10 July 2014) and Case T-578/12 NIOC v Council (16 July 2014, available only in French). Moallem Insurance was included in the EU’s restrictive measures since December 2012 on the grounds that it is the “main insurer of IRISL” and NIOC because it is said to be an “entity owned and managed by the State” which “provides financial resources to the Iranian government”, whose Chairman is a minister and CEO a deputy minister.

As with many other recent judgments concerning the EU’s targeted sanctions relating to Iran, the Court annulled the Moallem Insurance Co listing as being a “manifest error of assessment”. Moallem said that the Council’s reason was factually incorrect, and the Council had no evidence to permit the Court to assess whether this was so since the material submitted by the Council was either disclosed too late (after the applicants brought their cases) or did not contain any evidence to support the Council’s reasons. The annulment will not take effect until the time limit for the Council to appeal has expired.

The Court rejected all of NIOC’s grounds of challenge, which were to the legal basis of the measures, the legality of the criteria for inclusion in the list, proportionality, the clarity of the reasons given, rights of defence and effective judicial protection, and errors in the Council’s assessment. The Court concluded that the Council was entitled to find that NIOC was owned and managed by the Iranian state and provided financial resources to the Iranian government.