On December 7, 2020 the Council of the EU adopted a Decision and a Regulation establishing a EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime. Similar to the US Magnitsky Act, the framework will enable the EU to target individuals, entities and bodies responsible for, involved in or associated with serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide, regardless of where they occurred.

The new sanctions regime makes it possible to act against human rights violations through the freezing of funds and economic resources of sanctioned persons, entities and organizations. Additionally, it will be prohibited to make funds and economic resources available to those listed. Sanctioned individuals will also be prohibited from traveling to the EU.

The EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime covers a wide range of human rights violations including, genocide; crimes against humanity; torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; slavery; extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and killings; enforced disappearance of persons; as well as arbitrary arrests or detentions. It also covers other violations or abuses, if they are widespread, systematic or otherwise of serious concern when measured against the objectives of the EU common foreign and security policy. Such other violations or abuses include, trafficking in human beings, as well as abuses of human rights by migrant smugglers; sexual and gender-based violence; violations or abuses of freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; and violations or abuses of freedom of opinion and expression or religion or belief.


Continue Reading EU adopts Magnitsky-style sanctions framework against human rights violations

On December 1, 2020 the Council of the EU adopted Conclusions calling on the Commission to launch an Action Plan by 2021 focusing on shaping global supply chains sustainably, promoting human rights, social and environmental due diligence standards and transparency. In April 2020, the Commission already announced its intention to develop a legislative proposal and published a study on due diligence requirements through the supply chain (see our previous client alert).

The Action Plan should include a call for a proposal from the Commission for an EU legal framework on sustainable corporate governance including cross-sector corporate due diligence obligations along global supply chains. An EU framework is likely to foresee binding due diligence obligations and may include a definition of the risk management processes companies will be required to follow to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for its adverse human and labor rights and environmental impacts. Companies will have to ensure that human rights are respected along their entire supply chain and will have to assume responsibility for more than just their direct contractual partners. Those affected by violations of companies’ human rights due diligence obligations will be able to enforce their rights in the courts of EU Member States. The German Council Presidency recently suggested that EU-wide legislation could also improve the quality of voluntary standards and certification on fair wages and universal access to social protection.


Continue Reading Council of the EU calls for due diligence rules along global supply chains

On 9 November the German Presidency of the Council of the EU and representatives of the European Parliament reached a provisional political agreement on the review of the EU Dual-Use Regulation. The EU’s current export control framework for dual-use items, set out in Regulation (EC) No 428/2009, has been in place since 2009. The regulatory process to review this system and to adapt it to the changing technological, economic and political circumstances has been ongoing for several years.

The revision of the EU Dual-Use Regulation aims at further strengthening EU action on the non-proliferation of WMD, including their means of delivery; contributing to regional peace, security and stability; and helping ensure respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. Most notably, the EU institutions agreed to expand the scope of the framework to cover cyber-surveillance technology with the stated aim of preventing human rights violations and security threats linked to the potential misuse of such technology.

The agreement now needs to be endorsed by EU Member States’ ambassadors sitting on the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper). The European Parliament and the Council of the EU will then be called on to adopt the proposed Regulation at first reading.


Continue Reading Provisional Agreement Reached on Review of EU Dual-Use Regulation, Including Rules on Cyber-Surveillance Items

On October 21, 2020, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s Sanctions Unit hosted a webinar to explain how UK sanctions policy and compliance will operate when the Brexit transition period ends.

EU sanctions will no longer apply in the United Kingdom after 11pm GMT on December 31, 2020. The UK’s new sanctions regime will

A recent letter from former high-ranking European Commission officials to the current Commission President Ursula von der Leyen raises various trade and market protection concerns and urges the Commission to take certain actions.

The letter raises legitimate areas of concern both as regards the current crisis in global trade and EU trade policy more generally.