As part of the EU’s fifth sanctions package of April 8, 2022, restrictive measures were imposed under Article 3j(1) of Council Regulation (EU) 833/2014 on the purchase, import or transfer of Annex XXII coal products. The restrictions state (emphasis added):
“(1) It shall be prohibited to purchase, import, or transfer, directly or indirectly, coal and other solid fossil fuels, as listed in Annex XXII into the Union if they originate in Russia or are exported from Russia.”
There are also similarly worded restrictions under Article 3i, which targets inter alia certain fertilizer products under Article 3i(1). The restrictions state (emphasis added):
“(1) It shall be prohibited to purchase, import, or transfer, directly or indirectly, goods which generate significant revenues for Russia thereby enabling its actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine, as listed in Annex XXI into the Union if they originate in Russia or are exported from Russia.”
Given the reference to “into the Union”, it was initially widely interpreted that these restrictions only prohibited the purchase, import or transfer of Annex XXII coal/fertilizer products where they were destined for an EU Member State.
On April 17, 2022, the EU issued a FAQ stating that “transfer is a broad concept covering a wide range of operations: not only the movement of goods through customs controls, but also the transport of goods, including (but not exhaustively) their loading and trans-shipment.” Whilst this made clear that “transfer” included transportation, for the reasons given above, Articles 3j(1) and 3i(1) still ostensibly required goods to be destined for the EU.