What determines EU sanctions? Design choice and exemptions


Unprecedented geopolitical challenges and international crises have unsettled world politics over the past few years. These challenges have their origin in countries in Europe’s immediate neighborhood, Russia, and its far abroad, North Korea. The responses to these crises have come in the form of sanctions. In the European Union, too, sanctions have developed into important tools in the external relations toolbox.

The most visible of these sanctions are economic restrictions to trade and investment aimed at challenger countries like Russia or North Korea. Yet, the European Union, just like any other actor, has a wide range of types of sanctions at its disposal: arms embargoes, asset freezes, diplomatic sanctions and travel bans next to economic sanctions. Why and how does the European Union choose among this range of sanctions? How is this determined by domestic actors within its member states? And, what is the role of firms when the European Union chooses between economic restrictions and other forms of sanctions?

As there are no answers to these questions to date, I will in this research project investigate why the European Union sometimes opts for economic sanctions, while in other cases it turns to non-economic restrictions such as travel bans. Moreover, I will assess the influence of European firms on these decisions and generate a unique database on their lobbying activities in relation to sanctions. To answer the research questions, I will use a mix of qualitative techniques and survey research. The results of this research project will educate scholars, students and public audiences about the interplay between international threats, governments in the European Union, and European firms in the adoption of sanctions and how this interaction translates into different forms of sanctions.

Mentor: Gerda Falkner (Profile)
Director: Katharina Meissner (Profile)
Funding: Austrian Science Fund FWF (Website) - M 2573 Lise-Meitner Programm
Duration: 2019-2023