European Union flags outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
The European Union is working on a new institutional framework to punish human rights violations around the world. In early December, EU member states endorsed a Dutch proposal to target people and entities that violate human rights with punitive measures such as asset freezes and travel bans. While the European Union has used human rights violations in part to justify sanctions in the past, the Dutch proposal would make the issue the primary trigger of sanctions.
If implemented, the new sanctions regime would mark the next step in the evolution of a continental bloc that over the past decades has become more active in sanctioning individuals and entities around the world. However, institutional constraints, such as the need for unanimity when it comes to approving sanctions, would still limit the impact of the new sanctions regime....