EU sanctions: New video explores why they matter

Prime Minister David Cameron has claimed Brexit could make it harder to combat Russian aggression in Eastern Europe – but is this the case?

A new video released today (7 June 2016) by the University of Sheffield and ShoutOut UK explores the role of EU sanctions, why they matter and the impact they have had on Russia.

It is the first of three short films by Dr Paul James Cardwell, of the University’s School of Law, which are part of the UK in a Changing Europe initiative.

Dr Cardwell said: “EU sanctions are properly called restrictive measures and these are measures which are put in place by law by the European Union and its member states which target either a country outside the EU – such as Russia, Iran and North Korea – or individuals, wherever they are in the world, who are suspected of involvement in terrorism.

“Sanctions can be effective but sometimes to measure that effect is very difficult. They can often take a very long time to have any effect – for example, in the case of Myanmar it’s only recently the sanctions regime has been lifted after being in place for many years. So it can be difficult to pinpoint whether it’s the sanctions themselves that have promoted change or the danger is sometimes they can affect people in the country they were not intended to, for example the poorest in society.”

He added: “Sometimes the threat of sanctions is enough to change the behaviour of a state, for example if it’s been acting in a threatening way. But pinpointing exactly the reasons for doing so can be very difficult.

“David Cameron has been clear in the case of Russia and Iran the UK pushed for sanctions, so we can see there is a synergy between UK and EU foreign policy. If the UK left the EU the UK would be able to place sanctions itself but it would be much less effective as a one member state than 28.”

The video features interviews with University of Sheffield students about their views on EU sanctions and Nicholas Cobb, Chair of the Westminster-Russia Forum. He explains the “profound” impact EU sanctions have had on Russians and the Russian economy.

Dr Cardwell added: “If the UK left the European Union it would be able to place sanctions as it decided on any country around the world, but it’s clear that as a member state you get a far more effective foreign policy measure of sanctions on a third country than the UK acting alone.”

The next videos by Dr Cardwell will explore democracy promotion and migration.

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2016 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact:

Hannah Postles
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 1046