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UK sanctions post-Brexit

The UK currently imposes sanctions via the powers contained in the European Communities Act 1972. This Act provides for the incorporation of all European Community law, and its Treaties, Regulations and Directives into UK law. This is, however, due to change as a result of the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018 which provides for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU) on 29 March 2019 via the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 and the incorporation of most EU laws into UK law.

The UK’s sanction making powers will thereafter be governed by the new Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018. This will presumably take effect simultaneously with the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The scope, nature and possible implications of the new UK sanctions regime has been discussed by the House of Commons in a recent briefing paper.

Imposing sanctions with EU allies

It has been commonly accepted that sanctions are more effective when imposed in conjunction with allies. With this in mind, the UK government has expressed its desire to maintain a regular dialogue with the EU on foreign, security and defence policy. However, in its briefing paper the House of Commons suggests that a formal agreement to implement EU sanctions is unlikely, and that even if sanctions targets were the same in practice, methods of enforcement are liable to differ.

There is some speculation that the UK may adopt similar measures to either Norway or Switzerland. Norway, for example, has the option to impose EU restrictive measures ‘with which Norway has aligned itself’. Switzerland too, has the discretion to align itself with EU sanctions on a case by case basis.

Sanctions or trade?

There are also concerns that the UK’s desire to enter into new trade deals in a post-Brexit environment may take priority over the enforcement of a tough sanctions policy and the resulting lack of coordination amongst leading nations may cause sanctions to appear less legitimate.

Lack of clarity

As it stands the terms of agreement on which the UK will be involved with EU foreign policy and sanctions remains unclear.
Source: The Standard Club

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