Sanctions against Syria

Description of the sanctions

The references to articles and annexes given under each type of sanction apply to legal texts that are described and can be downloaded under 'Relevant documents'.

1. Restrictions concerning the export, etc. of certain equipment that can be used for internal repression

There is a prohibition on Syria exporting, etc. certain equipment and technology that can be used for internal repression or for producing such equipment. This prohibition is contained in Articles 2a and 3 of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012. The products referred to are listed in Annex IA of the Regulation, which includes certain dual-use products that can be used in conventional warfare and for the production of biological and chemical weapons. The prohibition also covers technical assistance and certain financing concerning such products and equipment. A competent authority may grant exceptions if the equipment or services are intended for e.g. humanitarian purposes or for the staff of the UN, EU or Member States. Exemptions may also be granted as part of the measures to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons.

Moreover, prior authorisation from the competent authority is required for the export, etc. of an additional category of certain equipment and technology that can be used for internal repression. The authorisation requirement is contained in Articles 2b and 3.4 of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012. The products referred to are listed in Annex IX to the Regulation, which includes a series of chemicals and related equipment, etc. that can be used for the production and development of chemical weapons. The list of chemicals, etc. partly coincides with the control list for Syria that has been agreed upon within the framework of the Australia Group. Upon examination, authorisation may not be granted if the competent authority has reasonable grounds to assume that the equipment or technology is intended for internal repression. The requirement concerning prior authorisation also applies to technical assistance and financing concerning such equipment and technology.

2. Prohibition on arms imports

There is a prohibition on the import or transport of arms and related material of all kinds from Syria. It is also prohibited to provide financing or financial assistance for the purchase, import or transport of such weapons or such material. This prohibition is contained in Article 3 of Council Decision 2013/255/CFSP and, concerning associated services, in Articles 3 and 3a of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012. There are exemptions if the matter concerns part of the measures to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons.

3. Prohibition on the export, etc. of equipment, technology or software for monitoring of telecommunications and the internet

There is a prohibition on furnishing the Syrian regime with equipment, technology and software that can be used for monitoring or intercepting telecommunications and internet communications. This prohibition is contained in Article 4 of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012. The equipment referred to is listed in Annex V to the EU Regulation. To ensure implementation of the prohibition, authorisation is required from a national competent authority for all exports of such products to Syria. Authorisation is to be refused if there are reasonable grounds to assume that the equipment would be used by the regime. Corresponding prohibitions and authorisation requirements apply to services, assistance and financing in connection with the products in question.

4. Prohibition on the import, etc. of crude oil and petroleum products

There is a prohibition on the purchase, import or transport of crude oil and petroleum products from Syria, as well as a prohibition on the provision of certain services in connection with this prohibition. This prohibition is contained in Article 6 of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012. Annex IV to the Regulation lists the oil products covered by the prohibition.

Since the summer of 2013, there has been the possibility to make exceptions in certain circumstances from the prohibition if the activity in question is intended to provide support in various ways to the Syrian civilian population. This exception possibility is contained in Article 6a of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012.

5. Prohibition on the export, etc. of equipment and technology for use in the oil and gas industry

It is prohibited to supply Syria with equipment and technology deemed by the EU to be of crucial importance to certain sectors within the oil and gas industry, namely for exploration of oil and gas, production of crude oil and gas, refining, and liquefaction of natural gas. The prohibition applies to all deliveries of these products to Syria, not just to the above-named sectors (although it is these sectors that have determined the choice of prohibited products). This prohibition is contained in Article 9 of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012. The products referred to are listed in Annex VI to the EU Regulation. The prohibition also includes related financing. There is some scope for exceptions in order to honour contracts concluded at an earlier date.

Since the summer of 2013 there has been the possibility to make exceptions in certain circumstances from the prohibition if the activity in question is intended to provide support in various ways to the Syrian civilian population. This exception possibility is contained in Article 9a of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012.

6. Prohibition on the export, etc. of new Syrian banknotes and coins

There is a prohibition on the direct or indirect sale or transfer, etc. of new Syrian banknotes and coinage, printed or minted in the EU, to the Central Bank of Syria. This prohibition is contained in Article 11a of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012.

7. Prohibition on trade in gold and other precious metals and diamonds

With respect to the Syrian regime, it is prohibited to sell or buy gold, precious metals and diamonds. The prohibition also covers technical assistance, brokering services and financial assistance concerning such products. This prohibition is contained in Article 11a of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012. The products referred to are listed in Annex VIII to the Regulation.

8. Prohibition on the export etc. of luxury products

There is a prohibition on the sale and export, etc. of certain luxury goods to Syria. This prohibition is contained in Article 11b of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012. The goods referred to are listed in Annex X to the Regulation, see under 'Relevant documents'. Exceptions are made for such products carried in luggage for personal use.

9. Prohibition on the export, etc. of equipment for electricity power plants

There is a prohibition on the sale, transfer or export of certain equipment or technology for the construction or installation of new power plants for electricity production in Syria. There is also a prohibition on providing technical assistance or financing for such investments. There is some scope for exceptions in order to honour contracts concluded at an earlier date. This prohibition is contained in Article 12 of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012. The equipment and technology referred to is listed in Annex VII to the Council Regulation.

10. Prohibition on investments in the oil industry and for the construction of electricity power plants

There is a prohibition on investing in companies within the Syrian oil industry that are engaged in the sectors of exploration, production or refining, and for the construction of electricity power plants, e.g. via financial loans, acquisition of shares or the creation of joint ventures. However, contracts entered into before the introduction of the prohibition may be honoured. This prohibition is contained in Article 13 of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012.

Since the summer of 2013 there has been the possibility to make exceptions in certain circumstances from the prohibition on investments in the oil industry if the activity in question is intended to provide support in various ways to the Syrian civilian population. This exception possibility is contained in Article 13a of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012.

11. Freezing of assets

Persons responsible for the violent repression and persons and entities associated with the former shall have their funds in the EU frozen. The same applies to persons and entities benefiting from or supporting the regime, as well as persons and entities associated with them. It is also prohibited to make funds and economic resources available to these persons and entities. The number of persons and entities covered has gradually been expanded. A list of these persons and entities is contained in Annexes II and IIa to Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012, see under 'Relevant documents'. In October 2015, Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/1836 and Council Regulation (EU) 2015/1836 specified the group of individuals subject to the asset-freeze sanctions to include leading businesspersons and persons holding ministerial positions within the Syrian Government, members of the Assad and Makhlouf families, and persons operating in the chemical weapons proliferation sector and persons associated with them.

However, certain exemptions to the restrictions are possible, for example on humanitarian grounds. The provisions on the freezing of funds and exemption possibilities, etc. are contained in Articles 14–21c of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012. There is, for example, a possibility for a competent authority to grant a permit to transfer money from a frozen bank to Syrian citizens who are in education or training or carrying out research in the EU.

It may be mentioned that the Syrian Central Bank is one of the bodies subject to freezing of funds. However, special rules apply in order to allow the continuation of legitimate trade with Syria. For trade in goods that are important for humanitarian purposes, such as medicine and food, special regulations concede that payment may be made upon authorisation from funds otherwise frozen at the Commercial Bank of Syria.

Syrian Arab Airlines (Syrian Air) has also become subject to freezing of funds. This also means, under the general regulations on the freezing of funds, that it is prohibited to make funds and economic resources available to the company, for example at an airport. A prohibition against allowing the landing of flights operated by Syrian Air flights has also been introduced (see below under point 17).

12. Prohibition on certain lending to Syria

The lending of funds to the State of Syria and its agencies by the European Investment Bank (EIB) is prohibited. The prohibition includes a suspension of the technical contracts signed by the EIB in connection with the establishment of various projects and that directly or indirectly benefit the State of Syria. This prohibition is contained in Article 23 of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012.

It is also prohibited for EU Member States to enter into new commitments for loans or financial assistance to the Government of Syria, except for humanitarian and development purposes. This prohibition is contained in Article 19 of Council Decision 2013/255/CFSP.

13. Restrictions on financial support for trade

EU Member States shall exercise restraint in granting export credits, insurance and other support for export to Syria, particularly with regard to anything that could provide support to the repression. Long-term commitments are prohibited. However, there is an exception with regard to support for trade in food, medicines, etc. This is stated in Article 18 of Council Decision 2013/255/CFSP.

14. Prohibition on trade in Syrian government bonds

The purchase, sale or brokering of Syrian public or public-guaranteed bonds issued after January 2012 is prohibited. This prohibition is contained in Article 24 of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012.

15. Restrictions on financial services

It is prohibited for banks and financial institutions in the EU to open new accounts, correspondent banking relationships or joint ventures with banks in Syria. It is also prohibited for banks in the EU to open new representative offices or similar in Syria. Similar prohibitions apply to Syrian banks in the EU. These prohibitions are contained in Article 25 of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012.

Since the summer of 2013 there has been the possibility to make exceptions in certain circumstances from the prohibition on EU banks opening accounts or representative offices in Syria if this is intended to provide support in various ways to the Syrian civilian population. This exception possibility is contained in Article 25a of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012.

16. Prohibition on providing insurance and reinsurance

It is prohibited to provide insurance or reinsurance to the Government of Syria, its public bodies, corporations and agencies or to any persons or entities acting on their behalf or instructions. There are exceptions for certain health and travel insurance, as well as compulsory insurance with regard to Syrian entities or bodies based in the EU. This prohibition is contained in Article 26 of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012.

17. Prohibition on receiving cargo flights from Syrian carriers, etc.

Under international law, it is prohibited to provide access to airports in the EU for cargo flights operated by Syrian carriers. Moreover, there is a special prohibition against allowing the landing of flights operated by Syrian Arab Airlines (concerning Syrian Arab Airlines, see the section on the freezing of assets). This prohibition is contained in Article 26a of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012.

18. Prohibition on the export, etc. of jet fuel and fuel additives

It is prohibited to export, supply or transfer jet fuel and fuel additives to Syria. The same applies to financial assistance related to any such supply, including providing insurance and reinsurance or brokering such a supply. Exemptions apply for imports that take place with non-Syrian planes. Exemptions can also be granted by authorities for flights by the UN and others for the purpose of delivering humanitarian assistance. The prohibition is contained in Article 7a of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012 which was introduced in the regulation via Council Regulation (EU) No 1323/2014. The products covered by the prohibition are listed in Annex Va.

19. Cargo inspections

To monitor the embargo on equipment which might be used for internal repression introduced by the EU against Syria, it has been decided that Member States are to carry out inspections if it is suspected that aircraft or vessels in their airports, harbours and territorial waters destined for Syria contain goods that are prohibited or subject to permit requirements without the appropriate export permits. Such inspections must take place in accordance with national laws and within the framework of international law. Vessels and aircraft carrying cargo to Syria must make a prior declaration of all goods. In connection with the decision on inspections, Sweden has issued a national declaration in which it is emphasised that inspections and any confiscation of goods will take place in strict compliance with the Law of the Sea. The provisions on cargo inspections are contained in Article 26 of Council Decision 2013/255/CFSP.

20. Travel restrictions

All Member States shall take the necessary measures to prevent the entry into, or transit through, their territories of persons responsible for the violent repression. The list of persons has subsequently been expanded to include persons providing support to the regime or benefiting from it. This is stated on Article 27 of Council Decision 2013/255/CFSP. The persons covered by the travel ban are listed in Annex I to Council Decision 2013/255/CFSP; see under 'Relevant documents'. Exemptions from the ban may be made on the grounds of urgent humanitarian need, among other things. In October 2015, Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/1836 and Council Regulation (EU) 2015/1836 expanded the sphere of individuals subject to travel restrictions to include leading businesspersons and persons holding ministerial positions within the Syrian Government, members of the Assad and Makhlouf families, and persons operating in the chemical weapons proliferation sector, and persons associated with them.

21. Prohibition on trade in cultural objects

It is prohibited to import, export or transfer Syrian cultural property and other items of archaeological, historical, cultural, rare scientific or religious significance where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that they have been removed illegally from the country or without the owner's permission. This prohibition does not apply to cultural items removed from Syria before 9 May 2011. The prohibition is contained in Article 11c of Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012 which was introduced in the Regulation via Council Regulation (EU) No 1332/2013. A non-exhaustive list of objects covered by the prohibition is contained in Annex XI of this Regulation.

Competent Swedish authorities

The Swedish Migration Agency and Sweden's missions abroad are responsible for applying the travel restrictions.

The Inspectorate of Strategic Products (ISP) is responsible for matters concerning the embargo on products of various types that can be used for internal repression. The ISP also takes care of issuing permits concerning equipment that may be used for monitoring IT and telecommunications and for such dual-use products that may be used to manufacture equipment for internal repression. The ISP may also grant such exemptions from current export bans as are necessary to carry out efforts to eliminate chemical weapons from Syria.

Försäkringskassan (the Swedish Social Insurance Agency) may grant exemptions from the freezing of assets of natural persons, but not for routine administration (see Finansinspektionen).

The National Board of Trade may grant exemptions from the freezing of assets of legal persons and entities, but not for routine administration (see Finansinspektionen). The Board also receives certain applications necessary to utilise the opportunity provided to complete any export contracts and investments concerning the oil sector that were entered into prior to the imposition of certain prohibitions. Moreover, the Board is the competent authority for examining exemptions from various more closely defined prohibitions in the event that the activity in question is aimed at providing support in various ways to the Syrian civilian population.

Finansinspektionen (the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority) receives information about frozen accounts and may grant exemptions from the freezing of funds for routine administration.

No authority has yet been designated to deal with information about the jet fuel ban.

Links to the competent authorities are available below.

Contact

Josefin Simonsson Brodén
Sanctions Coordinator
Phone (switchboard) +46 8 405 10 00
email to Josefin Simonsson Brodén