This week, the European Commission is reportedly expected to present a legal proposal to make the evasion of sanctions an EU crime. This step will equip EU countries with a legal tool to confiscate frozen assets as part of the measures taken against Russia. It is estimated that to date around €30 billion in assets belonging to sanctioned individuals and entities have been seized by EU countries. However, the confiscation of assets is a matter of national law, which varies from country to country and the respective rules within the single Member States differ from one another. A uniform and EU wide regulation in this respect might result in a more effective approach.

Under the treaty, EU countries – in coordination with the European Parliament – can establish minimum rules relating to the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in areas of serious crime with a cross-border dimension. If passed, this measure would harmonise the approach to asset confiscation.

The Commission’s proposal will require unanimity amongst Member States and a majority of MEPs.