According to the Wall Street Journal, the US ambassador to the European Union, Anthony Gardner, has reported that “the US government is increasingly concerned about weaknesses in the European sanctions mechanism” and criticised the speed of the EU response to the “key legal challenge the courts have posed: providing enough evidence to share with the courts to stand up its targeted sanctions against people and companies”. The Ambassador said:
The EU has been slower to devote the additional resources needed to develop factual records that will withstand rigorous judicial scrutiny. It has paid the price, most recently in the extraordinary decision by the Court in December of last year to annul the EU’s inclusion of Hamas in a list of terrorist groups. According to the Court, the EU had based its periodic relisting on “factual imputations derived from the press and the internet” rather than on its own analysis of the group’s actions. Some key member states, such as the UK, fully appreciate the problem; they have begun lending more experts to the European External Action Service and are providing it with better unclassified documentation. The United States is also lending a hand by providing information and research support to the EEAS.
The Ambassador also reported that the US government is “encouraged” by the proposed rule change in the European courts to allow governments to provide sensitive intelligence information to the courts without it being shared with lawyers representing those challenging the sanctions – see previous blog:
Following several recent annulments by the Court of EU designations of Iranian entities, the EU has recognized the need for a change in the court’s rules to enable examination of classified information. Although the divergence in member state legal traditions on the use of classified information in judicial proceedings has complicated the development of new common rules, approval appears to be within reach. The United States is encouraged to see that the EU is strengthening its capability, administratively and judicially, to promulgate and sustain sanctions designations. This is not only of critical importance in our common efforts to combat terrorism and apply pressure on Iran, but also in our common efforts to apply pressure on Russia to change its aggressive policies toward Ukraine.