Judgment of the General Court in Case T-65/18 RENV | Venezuela v Council

The General Court of the European Union has dismissed an action brought by Venezuela seeking to annul certain EU restrictive measures instituted in response to human rights, rule of law, and democracy concerns in the country. Initiated on 13 November 2017, these measures targeted the export of equipment potentially used for internal repression and military purposes in Venezuela. Venezuela’s appeal aimed to overturn the inclusion of specific provisions within the EU Regulation 2017/2063, and subsequent amendments and extensions, on grounds of procedural and substantive legality.

The Court found that Venezuela, as a third country, had no entitlement to a prior hearing on measures of general application, as this would undermine the sanctions’ effectiveness aimed at influencing Venezuelan governance. Furthermore, the Court held that the Council’s reasons for the sanctions were sufficiently articulated, considering the well-documented concerns over Venezuela’s internal situation. The Court also dismissed claims of factual inaccuracies and misjudgments regarding Venezuela’s political and human rights situation, affirming the Council’s reliance on credible information.

Challenges alleging the imposition of unlawful countermeasures and breaches of international law, including the need for UN Security Council authorization and violations of World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements, were also rejected. The Court clarified that the measures did not constitute countermeasures under international law, and Venezuela failed to demonstrate a requirement for UN authorization or a breach of WTO obligations. Additionally, arguments regarding the extraterritorial application of the measures were dismissed, with the Court emphasizing that the sanctions fell within the jurisdiction of EU Member States and aligned with the Union’s foreign and security policy objectives, respecting international law principles.


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