Why is the EU lifting sanctions on politicians accused of corruption in Egypt, Tunisia and Ukraine, when so little money has been recovered?
On 12 March, the EU lifted sanctions against nine Egyptians responsible for the misappropriation of Egyptian state funds and unfroze the suspected proceeds of corruption, claiming that “the regime had served its purpose“.
The sanctions were imposed ten years ago, in 2011, with the stated purpose of helping the Egyptian authorities recover misappropriated state assets.
This action follows another EU decision, earlier in March, to reduce the number of people sanctioned for misappropriation of Ukrainian state funds, and the UK’s decision not to roll over any EU sanctions into its own post-Brexit sanctions regime.
When the transition period ended on 31 December, the UK adopted its own legislation in line with the previous EU framework, allowing it to sanction individuals accused of the misappropriation of state assets. However, it did not immediately sanction anyone under this new regime. As a consequence, none of the individuals previously sanctioned in Tunisia and Egypt by the EU are subject to sanctions by the UK.
The reality is that very little in the way of money or assets has been returned to the people of Egypt, Tunisia and Ukraine, the three countries originally placed under EU sanctions.
What went wrong and can we really hail the sanctions as a success?