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Export Control & Sanctions

Export Control & Sanctions

EU sanctions against Mykola Azarov illegal

Lawyers Gabriel Lansky and Alexander Egger (both Lansky, Ganzger + partner) welcome the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the Azarov case. On 19 December 2018, the EU’s highest Court set aside the judgement of the General Court - the sanctions against the former Prime Minister of Ukraine extended in 2015 are thus null and void. Proceedings concerning the extensions of sanctions adopted in 2016, 2017 and 2018 are currently pending. According to the ruling of the CJEU, these will also have to be annulled.

In the EU Supreme Court's statement of principle delivered today, the European judiciary has put the Council of the European Union in its place: Gabriel Lansky, the legal representative of the former Ukrainian Prime Minister, comments on the decision that the EU must not allow itself to be uncritically guided and exploited by the wishes of third countries such as Ukraine in its annual decision on the extension of EU sanctions. Gabriel Lansky: "After today's ruling, the EU must carefully examine whether people affected by sanctions had legal guarantees in the third country. It is clear from the ruling that the Court also strengthens for the observance of fundamental rights in Ukraine by insisting that criminal proceedings in Ukraine, which are to be the basis of European sanctions, must be conducted in accordance with the rule of law".

The lower court had previously claimed that such strict standards would only apply to terrorist suspects. Sanctions aimed at strengthening the rule of law in the third countries concerned, as here, were subject to less stringent requirements than those applicable to acts of third countries, such as Ukraine, according to the judgment of the General Court which has now been overturned. Gabriel Lansky: "In this groundbreaking ruling, the Court of Justice has proven itself to be the guardian of European fundamental rights in a politically sensitive procedure.” Alexander Egger: "The Court has also followed our reasoning on other key points, such as the burden of proof. It is a particular success that the Court not only overturned the judgment, but also immediately gave final judgment on the action and annulled the sanctions."

Since 2014, a team around the lawyers Gabriel Lansky, Alexander Egger, and Elizaveta Dubrovskaya has represented the former Ukrainian Prime Minister before the EU courts: Against the background of the political situation in Ukraine, the Council of the European Union had imposed sanctions on a number of Ukrainian politicians and businessmen. Later, the General Court lifted the sanctions adopted in March 2014. However, the Council renewed the sanctions in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, against which Mykola Azarov brought actions for annulment and filed appeals against the General Court's rulings.

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