The EU sanctions are effective and should be combined with political engagement, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said opening a discussion on the effectiveness of the sanctions policy on November 18 in Brussels.

“In the last decades the EU has shifted from general embargoes to smart sanctions, which is only one of many different EU foreign policy tools. Accordingly, with targeted countries we strive to keep the dual track approach, which most often works best,” said Minister Linkevičius.

The discussion “Do EU sanctions work?” was organized jointly by the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council and the European Policy Centre. A joint study of four sanctions regimes, on Belarus, Iran, Myanmar/Burma and Syria, was presented at the event. Its main conclusion is that in general the EU sanctions regimes achieve their aims. The study registers that sometimes sanctions are incorrectly perceived as seeking the change of regimes and recommends to focus on defining their goals more clearly as signalling the EU disapproval of certain policies and seeking to limit the ability to implement them.

“In the past two years we experienced a major increase in EU sanction regimes. They are now more robust, in certain cases targeting most relevant areas of interest for the country concerned. We need to reassess their impact but we must base our assessment on the results rather than numbers of targeted individuals or enterprises,” said Minister Linkevičius.

The minister admitted that the effect of sanctions on the EU economy is unavoidable but smart targeting does not prevent some trade to grow with certain countries. He urged the EU to coordinate actions among its institutions and Member States more closely.

EU sanctions are adopted unanimously by all Member States in the EU Council. Among the most common measures are bans on arms exports, economic and financial restrictions, bans on entering the EU territory as well as freezing assets of individuals and enterprises on the EU territory.

Sanction coordinators in the US State Department and Sweden’s Foreign Ministry, Dan Fried and Per Saland, also took part in the panel discussion that was attended by the representatives of the EU and Member States institutions, non-governmental organizations, business, media and academia. In preparing the study, authored by Assistant Professor at the University of Groningen Francesco Giumelli, two expert seminars have been held during the Lithuanian Presidency.

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