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Nowhere to hide: MEPs adopt new laws on closing loopholes in EU sanctions and on the confiscation of assets


12 Mar 2024



The European Parliament is this week taking further steps to support Ukraine by making EU sanctions more effective and ending the impunity for those violating sanctions following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In the plenary vote today, MEPs signed off on new rules that will harmonise criminal offences related to violating EU sanctions and the subsequent penalties. Today, not all member states criminalise the violation of EU sanctions and where criminal law exists, the provisions on breaches of EU sanctions differ significantly between EU countries. The new rules also make it easier to investigate and prosecute violations in all member states in the same way.

Tomorrow, Wednesday 13 March, MEPs will vote on the new EU Directive on asset recovery and confiscation. This directive establishes minimum rules to effectively trace, identify, freeze, confiscate and manage the property derived from criminal activities, including breaching EU sanctions.

Thijs Reuten, S&D MEP on the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, said:

“EU sanctions exist to protect European values and security. Violating sanctions is a crime and it is vital that all member states treat them as such. It undermines European solidarity when the EU cannot respond with unity when sanctions are breached. With these new rules, we are closing the loopholes and strengthening the EU’s foreign policy toolbox. They will help to weaken Putin's hand in the context of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

“Making EU sanctions more effective goes hand-in-hand with the new rules on asset recovery and confiscation. Thanks to these cross-border rules, there is nowhere to hide for the oligarchs and business people funding Putin’s illegal war as their assets and property can be frozen and confiscated more quickly and efficiently. We believe confiscated assets should be used to support the reconstruction of countries facing a war of aggression, like in the case of Ukraine today.”


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