Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Shooting in the dark? EU Sanctions policies

Over the last two decades, the EU has engaged in a surprisingly active policy of use of sanctions. In particular, it sanctions countries in response to particularly egregious human rights violations or democratic backsliding or to deter countries from actions that have negative security consequences for the EU, argues Konstanty Gebert in his article. However, although such sanctions seem to be applied with increasing frequency, it is extremely hard to tell how effective they are. Inadequate monitoring means we do not know how far member states implement EU sanctions. Nor do we know whether sanctions contribute to reaching the desired objectives. In short, it is like shooting in the dark.

Above all, there is an urgent need for better monitoring of the implementation and impact of EU sanctions. However, short of war, sanctions are the only coercive foreign policy instrument the EU has at its disposal. This means they will continue being used, regardless of criticism of their implementation and questions about their effectiveness. The EU should therefore apply sanctions as smartly as possible. In particular, it should set limited, achievable goals when imposing sanctions; be realistic about its own capacity to impose sanctions and about what they can achieve; loosen or suspend sanctions as a reward for compliance; and communicate effectively with the public and, in particular, the opposition in the target country.

Full article

Project funded by the European UnionEU