Article 29 Treaty on European Union

Article 29 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) allows the Council of the EU to adopt sanctions against governments of non-EU countries, non-state entities and individuals (such as terrorists) to bring about a change in their policy or activity.

Under Article 215 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU), the Council may adopt the necessary measures to implement decisions adopted under Article 29 TEU to ensure they are applied uniformly in all EU countries.

The EU adopts restrictive measures (sanctions), either as the EU’s own measures and/or in order to implement United Nations Security Council resolutions, in cases where non-EU countries, natural or legal persons, groups or non-state entities:

do not respect international law or human rights;
pursue policies or actions that do not abide by the rule of law or democratic principles.
Such sanctions are preventive and non-punitive instruments designed to allow the EU to respond swiftly to political challenges and developments, in line with the principles of the common foreign and security policy.

EU sanctions should be seen in the context of a wider political dialogue. Restrictive measures must be designed to minimise the consequences for the civilian population. In this regard, the EU considers it appropriate to address the specific situation through the imposition of targeted and differentiated sanctions to a country or part of it, government members, persons, groups or entities.

Range of Sanctions

A range of graduated sanctions may be imposed. These start with restrictive measures that may include the following:

Diplomatic sanctions:

  • expulsion of diplomats, suspension of official visits;
  • suspension of bilateral or multilateral cooperation with the EU; and
  • boycotts of sporting or cultural events.

Economic and financial sanctions:

  • arms embargo on military goods included in the EU’s common military list;
    restrictions on import and export of goods with both civilian and military uses (‘dual use goods’).

Prohibition measures can include:

  • freezing of fund sand economic resources owned or controlled by targeted individuals or organisations (such as cash, bank deposits, stocks, shares, etc.) which may not be accessed, moved or sold, and real estate which may not be sold or rented;
  • sectoral measures prohibitions, for example, on import or export of certain goods or technologies.
    In certain cases, exceptions from the asset freeze may be granted to allow the export of products to meet basic needs (such as food or medicines).

Visa or travel ban:

preventing individuals of a non-EU country concerned by sanctions from entering the EU.
However, EU countries may grant exemptions to travel bans in specific circumstances (for example, to allow a sanctioned member of a non-EU country’s government to participate in a United Nations conference in the EU).


Sanctions are designed to have political and economic effects. Within EU territory, including its airspace, they apply to:

  • any person inside or outside the EU’s territory who is a national of an EU country;
  • companies and organisations incorporated under the law of an EU country (including branches of EU companies in non-EU countries);
  • any business done in part of or in the whole of the EU.

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