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On November 28, 2022, the Council of the European Union adopted a decision aimed at "identifying the violation of Union restrictive measures as an area of crime" within the European Union.

Article 83 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the Europen Union (TFEU) establishes the competencies of the European Union in criminal matters.

"The European Parliament and the Council may, by means of directives adopted in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, establish minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the areas of particularly serious crime with a cross-border dimension resulting from the nature or impact of such offences or from a special need to combat them on a common basis.
These areas of crime are the following: terrorism, trafficking in human beings and sexual exploitation of women and children, illicit drug trafficking, illicit arms trafficking, money laundering, corruption, counterfeiting of means of payment, computer crime and organised crime.
On the basis of developments in crime, the Council may adopt a decision identifying other areas of crime that meet the criteria specified in this paragraph. It shall act unanimously after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament."

On such basis, the Council has taken the decision to expand the European Union's competencies in criminal matters. According to the document:

  • "it is necessary that Member States have effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties in place for the violation of Union restrictive measures" (4)

  • "the violation of Union restrictive measures can ... in some cases be related to criminal offences covered by some of the listed areas of crime, such as terrorism and money laundering" (6)

  • "the developments in crime witnessed following Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine constitute exceptional circumstances" (7)

  • "the violation of Union restrictive measures is a particularly serious area of crime, which, in terms of gravity, is of a similar degree of seriousness to the areas of crime listed in Article 83(1) TFEU, since it can perpetuate threats to international peace and security, undermine the consolidation of and support for democracy, the rule of law and human rights and result in significant economic, social, societal and environmental damage" (10)

  • "The violation of Union restrictive measures shall be an area of crime within the meaning of Article 83(1), second subparagraph, TFEU" (Article 1).

Download the Council of the EU's proposal of November 28, 2022

Council Decision identifying the violation of restrictive measures as an EU crime
Download PDF • 355KB


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