EU broadens scope for sanctions to tackle hybrid attacks and instrumentalisation of migrants

The Council amended its sanctions regime in view of the situation at the EU’s border with Belarus, so as to be able to respond to the instrumentalisation of human beings carried out by the Belarus regime for political purposes.

The sanctions regime was amended by way of a Council decision and a Council regulation, which broaden the listing criteria on which specific designations can be based . The EU will now be able to target individuals and entities organising or contributing to activities by the Lukashenko regime that facilitate illegal crossing of the EU's external borders.

Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Today's decision reflects the determination by the European Union to stand up to the instrumentalisation of migrants for political purposes. We are pushing back on this inhuman and illegal practice. At the same time, we continue to underline the unacceptable ongoing repression by the regime against its own population at home, and we will respond accordingly.

Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Today's decision follows the European Council conclusions of 21 and 22 October 2021, in which EU leaders declared that they 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.

On 10 November the High Representative issued a statement on behalf of the EU strongly condemning 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 distract attention from the situation in Belarus, where brutal repression and human rights violations are continuing and even worsening.


Since October 2020, the EU has progressively expanded its restrictive measures in the light of the situation in Belarus. These measures were put in place in response to the fraudulent nature of the August 2020 presidential elections in Belarus, and the intimidation and violent repression of peaceful protesters, opposition members and journalists. The EU does not recognise the results of the Belarus elections, condemning them as neither free, nor fair.

A total of 166 individuals and 15 entities are now designated under the sanctions regime on Belarus. These include President Alexandr Lukashenko and his son and national security adviser, Viktor Lukashenko, as well as other key figures in the political leadership and the government, high-level members of the judicial system and several prominent economic actors. Measures against designated persons include travel bans and an assets freeze.

The Council decided in June to strengthen the existing restrictive measures in view of the situation in Belarus by introducing a ban on the overflight of EU airspace and on access to EU airports by Belarusian carriers of all kinds and imposing targeted economic sanctions.