What are the odds of Vlad Plahotniuc’s sanctions being lifted?

Oct 12, 2023

Plahotniuc v Council: Prospects and challenges 

Vlad Plahotniuc has challenged the Council’s decision to impose sanctions, including a visa ban and asset freeze, due to his alleged actions destabilizing Moldova. His challenge is based on two main arguments: first, that there were significant errors in assessing the evidence justifying his listing, and second, that his rights under the Treaty on European Union and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights were violated.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has the authority to review the legality of sanctions imposed on individuals or entities. However, the CJEU’s review does not delve into the factual aspects of the case, such as whether the sanctions are fair or necessary. Instead, it focuses on ensuring due process rights are upheld, including the right to be heard and access to evidence.

A significant challenge in these cases is the limited access to classified information, which hampers effective judicial review and defense rights. The CJEU has ruled against sanctions in cases where relevant evidence couldn’t be disclosed. In response to legal challenges and concerns about insufficient evidence, the Council has expanded its listing criteria. This allows it to designate entities more easily based on broader grounds, such as a “sufficient link.” This strategy has reduced the number of cases lost in court, as it requires less detailed evidence.

In summary, the outcome of Vlad Plahotniuc’s challenge remains uncertain, but recent trends suggest that sanctions have become more resilient to judicial review due to broader criteria and increased reliance on open-source information. Even if the sanctions are initially lifted, there is a possibility of Vlad Plahotniuc being relisted if the Council amends its criteria, as seen in previous cases. Ultimately, the outcome will depend on specific arguments presented, the strength of evidence, and legal interpretation by the court handling the case.

The study can be accessed here.

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