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Adoption procedure of EU restrictive measures

Adoption of Council decisions

Restrictive measures are laid down in Common Foreign Security Policy (CFSP) Council decisions. They are adopted by unanimity on a proposal made by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR).  

In the Council

The proposed measures are examined and discussed by the relevant Council preparatory bodies

  • the Council working party responsible for the geographical region to which the targeted country belongs (for example the Eastern Europe and Central Asia Working Party (COEST) for Ukraine or Belarus; the Mashraq/Maghreb Working Party for Syria, etc.)
  • the Foreign Relations Counsellors Working Party (RELEX)
  • the Political and Security Committee (PSC) 
  • the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER II)

Entry into force

The Council Decision enters into force on the day of publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Measures such as arms embargoes or restrictions on admission are implemented by the member states, which are legally bound by the provisions of the Council decision.  

If the Council Decision includes an asset freeze and/or other types of economic and/or financial sanctions, those measures need to be implemented in a Council regulation. 

Adoption of Council regulation

Based on the CFSP Council decision, the Council regulation is adopted pursuant to Article 215 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, on a joint proposal from the HR and the Commission. The joint proposal is examined by RELEX and forwarded to COREPER and Council for adoption.

The Council  informs the European Parliament  of the adoption of the Council regulation.

Often the CFSP Council decision and the Council regulation are adopted together to allow for both legal acts to produce their effects at the same time. This is particularly relevant in the case of an asset freeze.

The regulation lays down the precise scope of the measures and details for their implementation. As a legal act of general application, the regulation is binding on any person or entity (economic operators, public authorities etc.) within the EU.

Notification procedure

Persons and entities subject to an asset freeze or travel restrictions (listed persons and entities) are notified of the measures that have been taken against them:

  • personally by a letter if their address is available
  • by means of a notice published by the Council in the "C" Series of the Official Journal of the European Union


Restrictive measures are only effective if they are properly implemented, enforced and monitored.  

They are implemented by member states and the Commission, according to their respective competences in the area covered by the particular measure.

In this respect, measures laid down only in the CFSP decision, such as arms embargoes or travel restrictions, will be implemented by the member states, whilst the Commission will verify that the Member states have implemented the regulations in a proper and timely manner.