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Research Report

On target?: EU sanctions as security policy tools

Iana Dreyer
José Luengo-Cabrera
Sara Bazoobandi
Thomas Biersteker
Richard Connolly
Francesco Giumelli
Clara Portela
Stanislav Secrieru
Peter Seeberg
Peter A.G. van Bergeijk
Copyright Date: Sep. 1, 2015
Pages: 99
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 5-6)
    Antonio Missiroli

    Sanctions have increasingly become important security policy tools – by design as well as by default. Whenever countries (especially Western countries) are confronted with an international security crisis in which they agree that they cannot (or will not) use military force, resorting to various types of restrictive measures has proved to be a way of showing a willingness to react and to influence developments – past, present and future.

    Sometimes symbolic, and therefore mainly declaratory, but often aimed at exercising some form of ‘civilian’ deterrence – by other means, so to speak – EU sanctions have recently increased in frequency,...

  2. (pp. 7-16)
    Iana Dreyer and José Luengo-Cabrera

    Sanctions are part of a panoply of tools used by the European Union to further the goals of its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Called ‘restrictive measures’ in official EU language, they are imposed against target governments, commercial entities and individuals to penalise a policy or course of action that contravenes international law and political norms.

    Over the past two decades, the EU has made increasing use of sanctions. Its role as an international sanctions ‘sender’ is now comparable to that of the United States, the world’s biggest sanctioning power. While its position has historically been complementary to the...

  3. (pp. 17-28)
    Thomas Biersteker and Peter A.G. van Bergeijk

    The debate on the usefulness of sanctions as a foreign and security policy tool follows a familiar pattern. Proponents of sanctions cite well-known success stories, while opponents highlight evident failures. This is not surprising, because sanctions are a highly political issue, with both sides of the debate persuasively arguing their case. But the choice of examples selected to make a case for or against sanctions is often biased, and not much can be learned from case studies drawn from skewed samples.

    The aim of this chapter is to move the debate forward, in the direction of more evidence-based policymaking. Our...

  4. (pp. 29-38)
    Richard Connolly

    In the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and its involvement in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, the EU, the US and their allies imposed a series of sanctions on Russia. This chapter focuses on the impact of these sanctions on the Russian economy and the implications these effects have for Russia’s political system.¹ The economically most important sanctions include a ban on loans of a maturity of longer than one month, a ban on investments in new energy projects, and a ban on arms sales to Russia. This chapter also briefly dwells on how...

  5. (pp. 39-48)
    Stanislav Secrieru

    In March 2014 the EU initiated a series of diplomatic and economic sanctions against Russia in reaction to its violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The EU was not alone in rolling out a sanctions regime against Russia: the fact that the introduction of sanctions and their upgrade was coordinated with major international players, notably the US, Japan and Canada, has given the sanctions greater political and economic weight. Furthermore the sharp fall in oil prices since June 2014 has intensified the effect of sectoral sanctions on Russia. Moscow has argued that sanctions will do little to change Russia’s...

  6. (pp. 49-56)
    Peter A.G. van Bergeijk

    This chapter seeks to contribute to the academic and policy debates on the merits of sanctions against Iran by providing an empirical analysis of their economic impact.¹ It starts by taking a look at stylised facts² in order to establish whether sanctions are effective – measured by the degree to which they have constrained the Iranian authorities’ ability to sustain their ambitions in the nuclear field as a result of the costs sanctions have inflicted on the country. Having established the conditions under which sanctions meet the criteria for success (as developed in chapter I), the rest of the chapter...

  7. (pp. 57-66)
    Sara Bazoobandi

    Iran has been subject to sanctions for more than three decades. The United States (US) has been the primary sanctioning power since the Tehran US embassy seizure and hostage crisis in 1979. Since then Washington has expanded the range of punitive measures taken against Iran in response to government actions deemed reprehensible by the White House. After the hostage crisis of 1979, the aggressive tactics of the Iranian military in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war, Tehran’s support for terrorist organisations, and most recently, the revelation of the country’s nuclear programme, the US has essentially relied on ‘restrictive measures’...

  8. (pp. 67-74)
    Peter Seeberg

    Since the spring of 2011, international and regional actors have imposed a wide range of comprehensive sanctions on Syria, as well as targeted sanctions on individuals linked to the Assad government. Starting from May 2011, the European Union launched a set of sanctions aimed at putting pressure on the Assad regime and thereby inducing a change in its condemnable behaviour. While the EU’s different sanctions and embargoes have had a negative impact on the Syrian economy, the targeted members of the Syrian elite have – to a certain degree – been able to circumvent the individual sanctions, principally with the...

  9. (pp. 75-84)
    Iana Dreyer, Francesco Giumelli, José Luengo-Cabrera and Clara Portela

    This chapter draws conclusions from the various case studies presented in the report. In the first section, the case studies are considered in light of the ‘success criteria’ outlined by Biersteker and van Bergeijk in chapter I. The second section identifies possible policy implications and points to further areas for research.

    Although the effects of sanctions are experienced differently depending on how they are implemented and what form they take, their overall impact is one of raising the cost of pursuing the proscribed activities carried out by the target. As a result, sanctions act as instruments intended to change a...