The European Union has the legal authority to take action against anyone who helps Russia avoid its sanctions, the EU presidency announced on Monday.
According to a statement, member states unanimously agreed that violating restrictive measures against Russia would be considered an “EU crime” across the bloc.
This would facilitate the addition of individuals and entities from countries outside the EU to sanctions lists established to punish existing actions such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
It would also help standardize the interpretation and application of EU sanctions law across the 27-member Union.
“Currently, member states have different definitions of what constitutes a violation of the restrictive measures and the penalties to be applied in the event of a violation,” said the statement released by the bloc’s current Czech presidency.
“This could lead to varying degrees of enforcement of sanctions and a risk of circumvention of these measures, potentially allowing sanctioned individuals to continue to access their assets and support regimes targeted by EU measures.”
Following the decision of the member states, the EU executive — the European Commission — will now draw up a proposal for a legal directive which will then be submitted to the member states and the European Parliament.