Europe in the World

The effectiveness of EU sanctions - An analysis of Iran, Belarus, Syria and Myanmar (Burma)

18 November 2013
Francesco Giumelli (External authors) and Paul Ivan (Senior Policy Analyst)

Over the last two decades, the European Union (EU) has increasingly relied on the use of restrictive measures in its external action; however, this has not been accompanied by an attentive evaluation of their effectiveness. In this Issue Paper, Francesco Giumelli and Paul Ivan focus on the case studies of Iran, Belarus, Syria and Myanmar (Burma) and explore ways of understanding the effectiveness of EU restrictive measures by providing a framework for assessment which looks at: the role of sanctions in an overall foreign policy strategy; the purpose and goals of the policy in terms of coercing, constraining and signalling; the impact of sanctions and the costs incurred by the EU; and the sanctions’ comparative utility.

After evaluating the four case studies, the authors argue that restrictive measures positively contribute to shaping the EU’s external relations but that there is a need for a careful evaluation of what sanctions are supposed to achieve in order to build the proper expectations upon which their effectiveness can be judged. In order to improve the monitoring mechanisms of sanctions at the EU level, the authors recommend the creation of an EU panel of experts who would be tasked with monitoring sanctions, a measure which would enhance the evaluation of sanctions and could potentially improve the way in which they are integrated into the EU external action.

The effectiveness of EU sanctions

In this programme


Programme Team

Head of Europe in the World programme and Senior Fellow

Giovanni Grevi

Researcher in EU energy and climate policy, Institute of European Studies, Free University of Brussels

Marco Giuli

Senior Policy Analysts

Paul Ivan
Amanda Paul

Junior Policy Analyst

Ivano di Carlo

Programme Assistant

Marco Zeiss