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Research Report

How EU sanctions work:: A new narrative

Francesco Giumelli
Copyright Date: May. 1, 2013
Pages: 49
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 5-6)
    Antonio Missiroli

    For over 20 years, the Chaillot Papers – our flagship publication series – have constituted a distinctive trademark for the (W)EU Institute for Security Studies. They have developed and evolved over time – not unlike the Institute itself – but they have always been identified with a particular approach to security issues, combining academic depth with a policy focus and broader effort to be accessible (and useful) to both the academic and the Pol-Mil and diplomatic community. This tradition recently lost some of its momentum, in part due to the advent of new media formats and the growing importance of...

  2. (pp. 7-8)

    The European Union has devoted growing attention to sanctions since the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty.¹ In total, the Council has imposed Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) sanctions targeting countries, economic sectors, groups, individuals and entities on 27 different occasions. The novelty in the area of sanctions is that targets are not only states, as in the recent cases of Iran and Syria, but they are also individuals and non-state entities, e.g. anti-terrorist lists, President Robert Mugabe and his associates, and several companies connected with the military junta in Burma/Myanmar. Additionally, the contexts in which sanctions are...

  3. (pp. 9-14)

    The EU has acquired an important role on the global stage in the past two decades and its sanctioning policy is one of the elements that have contributed to this.² The institutional capacities of the EU in imposing restrictive measures have developed from loose cooperation in the foreign and security policy sphere to a complex and well-developed mechanism that regulates how the 27 members can reach binding decisions in the security domain within the boundaries of the EU legal framework.

    The Treaty on European Union (TEU) includes restrictive measures as one of the possible tools that can be employed to...

  4. (pp. 15-26)

    The quest to understand whether sanctions ‘work’ has been going on for as long as the existence of sanctions themselves. In 1985, David Baldwin wrote that there are few subjects in political science that command more consensus than those which claim that sanctions do not work.⁶ In 1999, Daniel Drezner began his interesting contribution to the debate on the success of sanctions by listing several opinions by scholars and practitioners holding that sanctions are ineffective.⁷ In reality, the terms of the debate are more elaborate than this, but most of the evaluations are either based on a naïve ‘pain-gain’ approach...

  5. (pp. 27-36)

    This Chaillot Paper started off by highlighting how, despite the controversy surrounding international sanctions, the EU has resorted to sanctions numerous times in the past two decades. The analysis so far has stressed the need for a new sanctions narrative that would contribute to make sense of this puzzle. This section intends to look at a few concrete instances of the application of sanctions in order to show how a narrative built on the logic of sanctions, that relies on the three-step evaluation process outlined in the previous chapter, can contribute to increase awareness about how sanctions work. This is...

  6. (pp. 37-42)

    This study has offered a new narrative to analyse and understand the adoption of restrictive measures by the European Union. The total of 27 different sanctions regimes adopted after the end of the Cold War cannot be understood if sanctions are simply seen as foreign policy tools used to change the behaviour of targets by imposing an economic cost on them (the ‘pain-gain’ equation). Instead, EU sanctions should be seen as coercive, constraining and signalling devices in foreign policy. This perspective contributes to a new narrative on sanctions that clarifies why they are imposed and how we should think about...