Of Rulers, Relatives, and Businesspersons: The Imposition of Sanctions on Family Members

Graham Butler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


EU restrictive measures (sanctions) have long been imposed on individuals like rulers and businesspersons close to rulers who have been committing acts that are contrary to international peace and security. Considering gathered evidence, such sanctioning is an accepted form of countermeasure that the EU takes, accounting for the provisions of the EU Treaties, and adopted secondary law. As the EU sanctions regime has become increasingly sophisticated, the EU has begun to also impose sanctions on the family members of otherwise sanctioned persons, to ensure that EU sanctions are not easily circumvented. This article considers the lawfulness of the EU imposing sanctions on family members of otherwise sanctioned persons, accounting for any potential links or associations that family members may have beyond that of being a mere relative. Whilst the EU extends the reach of its sanctions regime, account must be taken of the position in society that the otherwise sanctioned person holds – whether they are members of a governing regime of a third state as a ruler, or whether they are prominent businesspersons who benefit economically from the third state – to determine the lawfulness of also imposing sanctions on their family members. Ultimately, both the Council as the decision-maker, and the CJEU as the judicial reviewer, will have to balance the interests at stake.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLegal Issues of Economic Integration
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)367-390
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Businesspersons
  • Common Foreign
  • Court of Justice
  • Court of Justice of the European Union
  • Family
  • Family members
  • General Court
  • Governing regime
  • Judicial review
  • Relatives
  • Restrictive measures
  • Rules
  • Sanctions
  • Security Policy


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