The European Commission announced today that the updated EU Blocking Statute (see previous blog) will enter into force on 7 August 2018 (tomorrow), in response to the re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran. They have also issued a document explaining its effect (EU Commission Q&As) which states that:
- The Blocking Statute aims at countering the effects of US sanctions on EU economic operators engaging in lawful activity with third countries.
- It applies with regard to specific legislation listed in its Annex. It forbids EU residents and companies from complying with the listed legislation unless they are exceptionally authorised to do so by the Commission, allows EU operators to recover damages arising from that legislation from the persons or entities causing them, and nullifies the effect in the EU of any foreign court rulings based on it.
- EU operators should inform the European Commission – within 30 days since they obtain the information – of any events arising from listed extra-territorial legislation that would affect their economic or financial interests.
- EU operators can recover “any damages, including legal costs, caused by the application of the laws specified in its Annex or by actions based thereon or resulting therefrom” from “the natural or legal person or any other entity causing the damages or from any person acting on its behalf or intermediary”. The action can be brought before the courts of the Member States and the recovery can take the form of seizure and sale of the assets of the person causing the damage, its representatives or intermediaries.
- Implementation of the Blocking Statute, including deciding on effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties for possible breaches is the competence of Member States. It is also for Member States to enforce those penalties.
- The European Commission gathers information from EU operators on possible cases of application of the listed extra-territorial legislation, liaises with national authorities from EU Member states concerning such cases in their jurisdiction and receives notification from and shares information with Member States on measures taken under the Blocking Statute and other relevant aspects.
- The Commission can also, in exceptional cases, authorise an EU operator to fully or partially comply with the listed extra-territorial legislation if non-compliance would seriously jeopardise the interests of the operator or of the European Union. The Implementing Regulation containing the criteria on the basis of which the Commission will assess such requests for authorisation will also be published tomorrow.