Customs Engineering & Law

Directive (EU) 2024/1226: harmonisation of criminal penalties applied by Member States in the event of circumvention of EU sanctions

Date : 17 May 2024


Antoine Damoret

Trainee Lawyer

The purpose of Directive (EU) 2024/1226, published on 29 April 2024, is to harmonise the criminal penalties applied by the Member States to any individual or legal person who circumvents European Union sanctions. Article 2 sets out the key definitions of the text and Article 3 lists the conduct constituting criminal offences to be transposed into the legislation of the Member States. The following points are of particular interest:
The text allows Member States to exclude certain conduct from the scope of criminal offences if the value of the goods/services in question is less than €10,000.
Article 3 requires a mental element (intention to circumvent penalties).
Article 3(1) states that:
“Member States shall ensure that, when committed intentionally and in breach of a prohibition or an obligation which constitutes a Union restrictive measure or which is set out in a national provision implementing a Union restrictive measure, where national implementation is required, the following conduct constitutes criminal offences.”
The conduct referred to in Article 3, even if committed negligently, constitutes a criminal offence if the goods concerned are classified as dual-use goods/military goods.
Under the Directive, incitement to commit the conduct referred to in Article 3 should be made a criminal offence.
It is interesting to note that the Directive provides for aggravating and mitigating circumstances.
The text also provides for a minimum limitation period for prosecutions/investigations, which may not be less than 5 years. However, this limitation period may be reduced to a minimum of 3 years if it can be interrupted or suspended by certain specific acts.
A Member State may decide to extend its jurisdiction (Article 12(2)) in respect of the criminal offences provided for in the Directive. In fact, the Directive allows for a degree of flexibility where a natural or legal person lawfully established on the territory of that Member State commits an offence outside the territory of the European Union.
The provisions of the Directive must be transposed into the national law of the Member States by 20 May 2025 at the latest