SYRIA - Initial Imposition of EU sanctions & Subsequent Amendments
13 February 2018, Bachir El Nakib (CAMS)
Sanctions were first imposed on Syria by the EU in May 2011 in response to the violent suppression by government forces of peaceful demonstrations (Council Decision 2011/273/CFSP and Council Regulation No 442/2011).
Many aspects of the arms embargo have since been lifted (beginning in June 2013) due to disagreement between Member States, although there is general consensus between Member States that arms exports should not take place at the current time.
Alongside limits on armament exports, current sanctions also include prohibitions on exporting equipment for monitoring telecommunications; on financial relationships with Syrian institutions; on the import of Syrian oil and gas, as well as investment in the energy industry.
There are no UN sanctions in force against Syria. EU sanctions are imposed pursuant to the EU’s autonomous Common Foreign and Security Policy powers.
Form of the Sanctions
Criteria for Inclusion in Targeted Measures
Categories of individuals and entities targeted by the restrictive measures are:
Financial and other supporters of the Assad regime and associated companies, entities and subsidiaries
Military commanders and government ministers said to be involved in internal repression
Leading businesspersons operating in Syria;
Members of the Assad or Makhlouf families;
Syrian Government Ministers in power after May 2011;
Members of the Syrian Armed Forces of the rank of ‘colonel’ or the equivalent or higher in post after May 2011;
Members of the Syrian security and intelligence services in post after May 2011;
Members of the regime-affiliated militias;
Persons, entities, units, agencies, bodies or institutions operating in the chemical weapons proliferation sector.
Provisions in Force
Council Decision 2013/255/CFSP (OJ L 147, 31 May 2013) contains: notice to listed persons/entities bodies; arms embargo; export ban; travel restrictions; and asset freezes; further prohibition on financial relationships; embargo on luxury goods; import ban on oil and petroleum
Amended by Council Decision 2013/760/CFSP (OJ L 335, 13 December 2013) exception to the embargo on goods that could be used for internal repression, as well as to the import ban on arms; further exceptions to asset freezes
Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012 (OJ L 16, 18 January 2012) contains: notice to listed persons/entities bodies; export ban on telecommunications equipment; ban on certain investments; and asset freezes
Amended by Council Regulation (EU) No 168/2012 (OJ L 54, 27 February 2012) ban in trade in gold/diamonds/precious metals with Syrian government (exception for Central Bank of Syria)
Amended by Council Regulation (EU) No 509/2012 (OJ L 156, 15 June 2012) ban in trade in gold/diamonds/precious metals with Syrian government (exception for Central Bank of Syria)
Amended by Council Regulation (EU) No 867/2012 (OJ L 257, 24 September 2012) – prior information requirement for cargoes both into and out of Syria; amendment to embargo on equipment of building power plants
Amended by Council Regulation (EU) No 697/2013 (OJ L 198, 22 July 2013) authorisation to embargo goods used for internal repression; exception to the import ban on oil/petroleum products; exceptions to limits on investments and relationships with Syrian financial institutions; amendment to the list of goods which may be used to manufacture or maintain equipment used in internal repression
Amended by Council Regulation (EU) 2015/827 to amend its prohibition on the import, export, and transfer of cultural property and provision of related services where reasonable suspicion exists that the property has been illegally removed from Syria on or after 9 May 2011. It now encompasses property removed on or after 15 March 2011
Makhlouf v Council (Case T-359/11) (Date of lodging: 7 July 2011)
Makhlouf v Council (Case T-383/11) (Date of lodging: 21 July 2011)
Anbouba v Council (Case T-563/11) (Date of lodging: 28 October 2011)
Anbouba v Council (Case T-592/11) (Date of lodging: 22 November 2011) The General Court dismissed applications by Makhlouf and Anbouba, challenging their listing, on the basis that the applicants’ right of defence was not infringed, even though neither had received individual notification of their inclusion (since they were able to bring actions before the Court). Moreover, the Council had given sufficiently specific reasons to allow the applicants to know why they had been included. On Appeal
Makhlouf v Council (Case T-432-3/11) (Date of lodging: 2 August 2011)
Bena Properties v Council (Case T-490/11) (Date of lodging: 15 September 2011)
Makhlouf v Council (Case T-509/11) (Date of lodging: 28 September 2011)
Ghreiwati v Council (Case T-543/11) (Date of lodging: 14 October 2011)
Assaad v Council (Case T-550/11) (Date of lodging: 19 October 2011)
Hassan v Council (Case T-572/11) (Date of lodging: 4 November 2011)
Akhras v Council (Case T-579/11) (Date of lodging: 11 November 2011)
Al Chihabi v Council (Case T-593/11) (Date of lodging: 28 November 2011)
Cham v Council (T-694/11) (Date of lodging: 15 December 2011)
Syriatel Mobile Telecom v Council (Case T-651/11) (Date of lodging: 16 December 2011)
Sabbagh v Council (Case T-652/11) (Date of lodging: 23 December 2011)
Makhlouf v Council (Case T-82/12) (Date of lodging: 20 February 2012)
Akhras v Council (Case C-110/12P(R)) – [Application for interim measures] (Date of lodging: 24 February 2012)
Hassan v Council (Case C-168/12P(R)) – [Application for interim measures] (Date of lodging: 3 April 2012)
Syrian Lebanese Commercial Bank v Council (Cases T-174/12 and T-80/13) (Date of lodging: 17 April 2012) The Court held that the Council was entitled to assess that the bank was associated with the regime as it did not contest that it was 84.2% owned by the Commercial Bank of Syria or that the latter was owned by the state.
Al Assad v Council (Case T-202/12) (Date of lodging: 16 May 2012) Here the Court found that the Council was justified in presuming that the sister of the President benefitted from the regime, and that she had not rebutted that presumption.
Alchaar v Council (Date of lodging: 16 May 2012) Although it was proportionate for the Council to employ a presumption that former ministers were still linked to the regime – if it was rebuttable and proportionate – here the applicant had effectively rebutted it.
Khwanda v Council (Case T-178/12) (Date of lodging: 17 April 2012)
Suweid v Council (Case T-268/12) (Date of lodging: 18 June 2012)
Syria International Islamic Bank v Council (Case T-293/12) (Date of lodging: 2 July 2012) This was the Court’s first annulment of a listing within the regime of Syrian sanctions – it was not relevant that the bank had been sanctioned by the US as the Council had no evidence that it had assisted other banks in carrying out transactions with sanctioned entities. However, the Court refused the application for damages on the basis that loss and damage had not been demonstrated as a result of sanctions specifically.
Mayaleh v Council (Case T-307/12) (Date of lodging: 11 July 2012)
Al Toun and Al Toun Group v Council (Case T-326/12) (Date of lodging: 19 July 2012)
Klizli v Council (Case T-336/12) (Date of lodging: 1 August 2012)
Drex Technologies v Council (Case T-446/12) (Date of lodging: 9 October 2012)
Marouf v Council (Case T-569/12) (Date of lodging: 27 December 2012)
Al Tabbaa v Council (Cases T-329/12 / T-74/13) (Date of lodging: 23 July 2012) The Court found the Council had made a “manifest error of assessment” in that it had no evidence to support its claims, which the applicant had refuted. It also made clear that challenges can be made to re-listings, even if they did not challenge the original listing.
Al Assad v Council (Case T-407/13) (Date of lodging: 30 July 2013)
Mayaleh v Council (Case T-408/13) (Date of lodging: 30 July 2013)
Makhlouf v Council (Case T-441-443/13) (Date of lodging: 20 August 2013)
Anbouba v Council (Case C-630/13P) (Date of lodging: 25 November 2013)