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The EU implements its cyber sanctions regime for the first time

30. July 2020 - 18:59

Today 30 July, the European Union implemented its cyber sanctions regime against six individuals and three entities or bodies involved in launching or attempting to launch cyber operations against the European Union, its member states, or international organisations. The restrictive measures are a response to the attempted cyber-attack against the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) and cyber attacks that are publicly known as WannaCry, NotPetya, and Operation Cloud Hopper.

Estonia has been part of a group of EU member states leading the preparation efforts since the adoption of the cyber sanctions regime on 17 May 2019. This is the first time that the European Union is implementing these restrictive measures that enable travel bans and asset freezes of individuals and entities that have conducted cyber attacks.

“Estonia has been one of the leading forces within the European Union on cyber diplomacy. Today’s decision is the result of our determined efforts and is a remarkable example of cyber attacks being followed by specific measures,” Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said.

He added that it sends an ever more important signal at a time when many countries and the medical sector are experiencing increased pressure from cyber attacks.

Cyber-enabled activities conducted by the sanctioned persons and entities or bodies have caused significant damage and economic loss to the European Union, undermined the integrity of the international institutions located in European Union, or have undermined the European Union’s integrity, security and economic competitiveness, including posing a threat to intellectual property.

According to Reinsalu, recent months have increased the need to stand for a rules-based international order in cyberspace. “It is important that countries recognise the applicability of international law to cyberspace and uphold the cyber stability framework created by the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts, including norms of responsible state behaviour. These norms also protect human rights and fundamental freedoms,” the minister said.

Estonia has repeatedly condemned or expressed concern about irresponsible state behaviour in cyberspace. In relation to today’s decision regarding the cyber sanctions regime, Estonia’s Foreign Minister condemned Russia for the NotPetya attacks in February 2018 and expressed Estonia’s support to the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in standing up against irresponsible cyber attacks in October 2018. In December 2018, the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared its concern about malicious cyber activities conducted by the Chinese Government.

The list of sanctioned persons and entities or bodies can be found here (pp 6-9):
Declaration by the High Representative Josep Borrell on behalf of the EU:

Additional information:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia
Communication Department 

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