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Dimitris Mourkas

Dimitris Mourkas is a Knowledge Lawyer in Baker McKenzie, London office.

In December 2022, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution which introduced a standardized humanitarian exemption across UN regimes according to which activities necessary for humanitarian assistance and other activities that support basic human needs are exempt from sanctions in the form of asset freezes imposed by the Security Council or by its Sanctions Committees. All UN sanctions regimes except the Afghanistan regulations will now include a standardized humanitarian exception to the asset freeze provisions.

The European Commission has put forward a proposal to harmonize criminal offences and penalties for the violation of EU sanctions. The proposal follows a decision by the Council which identified the violation of EU sanctions as an EU crime and sets out common EU rules which will make it easier to investigate, prosecute and punish violations of EU sanctions in all Member States alike.

The EU Council has unanimously decided to add the violation of restrictive measures to the list of ‘EU crimes’. Currently Member States have different definitions of what constitutes a violation of EU sanctions and what penalties should be applied in the event of a violation. In a related development, the Justice ministers of France and Germany have jointly published an article which argues that the European Public Prosecutor’s Office should be given the competence to prosecute and punish violations of EU sanctions.