Following on from a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council (“FAC“) yesterday, at which the FAC unanimously agreed to impose restrictive measures on Venezuela, the EU has today published Council Decision 2017/2074 and Council Regulation (EU) 2017/2063 (together, the “Legislation“). The Legislation prescribes targeted sanctions against Venezuela, including an arms embargo, with immediate effect.

The Legislation has been formulated in response to the continuing crisis in Venezuela and the perceived deterioration of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. In particular, the EU has expressed concern over the opaque and irregular election by which the Constituent Assembly was elected, and reported violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The EU therefore views the Legislation as a justified tool to help foster a credible and peaceful negotiated solution.

The Legislation has two primary aspects:

  1. Extensive export restrictions against the Venezuelan regime. These consist of a tripartite embargo on the following:
    • Arms and related material of all types as well as the financing of military activities and provision of related services such as technical assistance;
    • Equipment which might be used for internal repression as well as financial assistance relating to such equipment and provision of related services such as technical assistance;
    • Equipment, technology or software intended primarily for use in telecommunications monitoring or interception by the Venezuelan regime, as well as financial or technical assistance to install, operate or update such equipment, technology or software.
  2. A legal framework for designated party controls, comprising travel bans and asset freezes, to be applied to persons who are responsible for (i) serious human rights violations; (ii) the repression of civil society and democratic opposition in Venezuela; or (ii) actions, policies or activities that otherwise undermine democracy or the rule of law.

At the time of publication, no designations of individuals or entities have been imposed by the EU. The Legislation states that a list of designated parties will be established and amended by the EU Council acting by unanimity upon a proposal by a Member State or the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The Legislation will remain in force until 14 November 2018, and will be kept under review. The EU reserves the right to renew or amend the Legislation as appropriate if the EU Council deems that its objectives have not been met.