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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations
News article2 December 2021Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations

Belarus: EU adopts 5th package of sanctions over continued human rights abuses and the instrumentalisation of migrants

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The Council decided today to impose restrictive measures on an additional 17 individuals and 11 entities in view of the situation in Belarus.

Today’s decision targets prominent members of the judicial branch, including the Supreme Court, and the State Control Committee, as well as propaganda outlets, contributing to continuing repression of civil society, democratic opposition, independent media outlets and journalists.

The decision also targets high-ranking political officialsof the Lukashenko regime, as well as companies (such as Belavia Airlines), tour operators and hotels that have helped incite and organise illegal border crossings through Belarus to the EU, and in this way participated in the instrumentalisation of migration for political purposes.

Altogether, EU restrictive measures on Belarus now apply to a total of 183 individuals and 26 entities. Those designated are subject to an asset freeze and EU citizens and companies are forbidden from making funds available to them. Natural persons are additionally subject to a travel ban, which prevents them from entering or transiting through EU territories.

The European Union will not tolerate the orchestrated and politically motivated  instrumentalisation of human beings by the Lukashenko regime. This cynical strategy of exploiting vulnerable people is an abhorrent attempt to deflect attention from the regime’s continued disregard for international law, fundamental freedoms and human rights in Belarus. The EU stands united in facing this challenge and is using all the tools at its disposal to push back against attempts to create a crisis at EU borders. We continue to stand in solidarity with the people of Belarus. This fifth round of sanctions is another example of our determination to act when human rights are violated.

Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

The EU has strongly condemned the Lukashenko regime for deliberately putting people’s lives and wellbeing in danger and stirring up the crisis at the EU’s external borders, in an attempt to detract attention from the situation in Belarus, where brutal repression and human rights violations are continuing and worsening. The Council is closely monitoring the internal situation in Belarus and will continue to counter the state-sponsored illegal migration organised by the Lukashenko regime.

The relevant legal acts, including the names of the persons concerned, have been published in the Official Journal.

The EU stands ready to support a peaceful, democratic transition with a variety of instruments, including a comprehensive plan of economic support for a democratic Belarus. We also stand ready to adopt further measures, including against other economic actors, if the situation in Belarus does not improve.

Background and next steps

Since October 2020, the EU has progressively expanded its restrictive measures in light of the situation in Belarus.

On 21 and 22 October 2021, the European Council adopted conclusions in which it declared that it would not accept any attempt by third countries to instrumentalise migrants for political purposes, condemned all hybrid attacks at the EU’s borders and affirmed that it would respond accordingly. The conclusions stressed that the EU would continue to counter the Belarusian regime’s ongoing hybrid attack, including by adopting further restrictive measures against persons and legal entities, in line with its gradual approach, as a matter of urgency.

On 15 November 2021, the Council amended the designation criteria to allow targeted restrictive measures to be applied against individuals and entities organising or contributing to activities carried out by the Lukashenko regime that facilitate the illegal crossing of the EU’s external borders.

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