On 1 July, the Council of the EU announced that its sectoral sanctions against Russia (which were previously due to expire on 31 July 2016) will be extended for a further six months until 31 January 2017. This extension was effected by Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/1071 of 1 July 2016 (the "Decision"), amending Council Decision 2014/512/CFSP. The Decision came into force upon publication in the Official Journal on 2 July 2016. For further detail on the sectoral sanctions currently in force, please see our previous briefings here and here.

The extension follows speculation in the press as to whether the sectoral sanctions would be lifted. In particular, a group of MEPs published an open letter in the Independent calling for a re-evaluation of the existing sanctions against Russia. The EU's most recent statements, and the Recitals to the Decision, have, however, re-confirmed that any relaxation of the sectoral sanctions will be linked to Russia's fulfilment of its obligations under the Minsk agreements.

The extension of the sectoral sanctions follows the EU's announcement on 17 June 2016 that it would extend its Crimea-related sanctions until 23 June 2017. This extension was effected by Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/982, amending Council Decision 2014/386/CFSP, which came into force on 19 June 2016.