HL Deb 27 April 1998 vol 589 cc4-5WA
The Earl of Sandwich

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What legal obstacles, if any, prevent an individual European Union member state from imposing economic and financial sanctions on an unelected foreign government; and whether they are taking any steps to overcome these obstacles in the case of Burma. [HL1521]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

The imposition of economic and financial sanctions on third countries is a matter for the European Community in accordance with Articles 73(b), 73(g)(1) and 228(a) of the Treaty of Rome. Article 228(a) requires prior unanimous agreement under the Common Foreign and Security Policy. No such agreement at present exists. As a matter of domestic law, the Emergency Laws (Re-enactments and Repeals) Act 1964 also limits scope for unilateral action. Furthermore, in the absence of a United Nations Security Council resolution, imposition of economic sanctions could breach World Trade Organisation obligations. We have, however, been able to adopt some trade measures short of sanctions in addition to existing EU measures against Burma. We shall continue to urge EU partners to adopt similar measures.