The Draft UK Withdrawal Agreement provides for a transition period (until 31 December 2020) during which EU law, including the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), will continue to apply to and in the UK. This means the UK will continue to implement EU sanctions during this period (see Part 4, Articles 126 and 127(1) of the Agreement, and Section IV of the EU press release).
If the EU and UK reach an agreement governing their future relationship in the area of CFSP which becomes applicable during the transition period, then the EU’s CFSP provisions and the sanctions adopted on the basis of those provisions will cease to apply to the UK from the date of that new agreement (see Part 4, Article 127(2) of the Agreement).
The EU and UK have outlined the political declaration setting out the framework for their future relationship, saying there will be a “[c]onsultation on sanctions, with intensified exchange of information where foreign policy objectives are aligned, with the possibility of adopting mutually reinforcing sanctions.”
In line with the UN Security Council, the EU has updated the information regarding a number of vessels designated under its North Korea sanctions list. See Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2018/1657 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1654.
The EU has renewed its Venezuela sanctions for 1 year, until 14 November 2019, in “view of the continuing deterioration of the situation in Venezuela” – see Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/1656, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1653, and EU press release.
The sanctions comprise an embargo on arms and on equipment capable of use for internal repression, as well as targeted measures (travel bans and asset freezes) on 18 individuals holding official positions of whom have been responsible for “human rights violations and for undermining democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela”.
Last week (2 November 2018), the UN Security Council removed Maysan Sugar State Enterprise from its Iraq sanctions list (UN asset freeze lifted). See UN press release.
On 8 November 2018, the EU implemented this UN delisting, see Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1661.
Last month, the EU Commission recommended the introduction of Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) instead of unanimity in (inter alia) sanctions policy, on the grounds that requiring unanimity “slows down progress and in some cases prevents the EU from adjusting to changing realities”. Two EU sanctions regimes (Belarus and Venezuela) were given as examples to “demonstrate that unanimous voting in the Council hampers the ability of the European Union to react quickly and firmly to international developments”.
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has requested EU leaders to discuss whether the EU will adopt the Commission’s recommendation at the Council meeting on 9 May 2019 in Romania.
The UK’s preference is for unanimity: “The UK is seeking a deep and special partnership with the EU following our withdrawal. It is therefore in our interests that the EU continues to be an effective foreign policy actor in the way it chooses. We recognise some of the frustrations highlighted by the Commission. However, we think that EU foreign policy decisions made by consensus carry considerable weight because all Member States agree them.” See Minister for Europe’s Explanatory Memorandum and European Scrutiny Committee’s Conclusions.
The EU has extended for 1 year its sanctions in respect of:
Russia/Ukraine: Last month, the EU adopted Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/1237, which prolonged for 6 months its sanctions on Russia over “actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine” (see previous blog).
The EU has now announced that the following countries have aligned themselves with that Council Decision: Montenegro; Albania; Norway; and Ukraine.
Libya: Last month, the EU adopted Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/1465, which extended for 6 months its sanctions on Libya in respect of 3 people: Agila Saleh Issa Gwaider; Khalifa Ghwell; and Nuri Abu Sahmain (see previous blog).
The EU has now announced that the following countries have aligned themselves with that Council Decision: Macedonia; Montenegro; Serbia; Albania; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Iceland; Liechtenstein; Norway; and Armenia.
The UN Security Council has designated 3 vessels – Shang Yuan Bao, New Regent, and Kum Un San 3 – pursuant to para 12 of UNSC Resolution 2321 (2016) and para 6 of UNSC Resolution 2371 (2017), for engaging in illicit North Korea-related ship-to-ship transfers, “likely for oil”. The vessels will now be subject to de-flagging and a UN-wide port ban. See UN press release.
On 26 October 2018, the EU implemented these UN listings, see Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2018/1613 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1606.