EU gradually expands sanctions on North Korea and Venezuela

by White & Case LLP
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The EU has added several individuals and entities to its list of persons subject to an asset freeze and travel restrictions, as part of sanctions targeting the Russian Federation, Venezuela, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). It has also introduced an exception to the Russian sanctions for a chemical necessary to a joint mission of the European and Russian space agencies.

North Korea: expanded asset freeze; more restricted 'luxury goods'; four sanctioned vessels

On 8 January 2018, the EU updated its list of persons subject to an asset freeze and travel restrictions1 in order to reflect new sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).2 The Council added 16 individuals – mainly banking officials – as well as the Ministry of the People's Armed Forces to the list.

In addition to implementing UN sanctions, the EU has also adopted additional autonomous measures. On 22 January it added a further 17 individuals (several of them North Korean diplomats) who were not included in the UN Resolution, but who have nonetheless been targeted by EU sanctions for their involvement in illegal trade and sanctions evasion.3

This tightening of sanctions against the DPRK follows other recent measures taken by the EU in response to that country's nuclear weapons programme. On 13 November 2017, the Council of the EU reviewed and expanded the list of "luxury goods" subject to an import and export ban.4 The list has become more inclusive, and goes beyond items traditionally understood as "luxuries", covering goods such as malt beer, any household electronics worth over EUR 50, and shoes or items of clothing worth over EUR 20. Additionally, the EU Council has updated its list of sanctioned ships, following a UN resolution to designate four vessels involved in exporting restricted items from the DPRK.5

Venezuela: arms embargo and asset freeze

On 22 January, the Council of the EU decided to include 7 individuals holding official positions in Venezuela on the asset freeze and travel restrictions list, including the Interior Minister, the President of the Supreme Court, and the head of the National Electoral Council.6

This follows the adoption, in November 2017, of an arms embargo against Venezuela and of the legal framework necessary to subject individuals to sanctions, but without including targeting anyone at that time. In view of the deteriorating human rights situation in the country, the Council has now decided to expand the sanctions against the regime, and to make use of the powers it gave itself to target individuals.7

Russia: exception for ExoMars; addition to asset freeze

On 30 November 2017, the Council of the EU adopted an amendment to the main regulation imposing sanctions on Russia for its role in destabilising Ukraine.8 This creates an exception to the arms embargo against Russia for hydrazine – a chemical used in rocket fuel. This is intended to permit certain transactions concerning hydrazine, which is necessary for the flight of the ExoMars carrier module, a joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

On 20 November 2017, the EU added Dmitry Vladimirovich Ovsyannikov, Governor of Sevastopol, to its asset freeze list for his actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.9

1 Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/12 of 8 January 2018, implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1509 concerning restrictive measures against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
2 UN Security Council Resolution 2397 (2017), adopted on 22 December 2017.
3 Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/87 of 22 January 2018, implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1509 concerning restrictive measures against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
4 Council Regulation (EU) 2017/2062 of 13 November 2017, amending Regulation (EU) 2017/1509 concerning restrictive measures against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
5 Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/53 of 12 January 2018, implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1509 concerning restrictive measures against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
6 Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/88 of 22 January 2018, implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/2063 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Venezuela.
7 Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/2074 of 13 November 2017, concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Venezuela; Council Regulation (EU) 2017/2063 of 13 November 2017, concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Venezuela.
8 Council Regulation (EU) 2017/2212 of 30 November 2017, amending Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia's actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine.
9 Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/2153 of 20 November 2017, implementing Regulation (EU) No 269/2014 concerning restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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