Documents considered by the Committee on 4 September 2013 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

48 The EU and Hezbollah



Council Decision 2013/395/CFSP of 25 July 2013 updating and amending the list of persons, groups and entities subject to Articles 2, 3 and 4 of Common Position 2001/931/CFSP on the application of specific measures to combat terrorism, and repealing Decision 2012/765/CFSP

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No. 714/2013 of 25 July 2013 implementing Article 2(3) of Regulation (EC) No. 2580/2001 on specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities with a view to combating terrorism, and repealing Implementing Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2012

Legal baseArticle 29 TEU; unanimity
Deposited in Parliament22 August 2013
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of considerationEM of 22 August 2013
Previous Committee ReportNone
Discussion in Council22 July Foreign Affairs Council
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared


48.1 The 22 July Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions note that "the Council discussed questions relating to Lebanon and the possible designation of an entity under the EU's restrictive measures to combat terrorism, as set out in common position 931/2001", and then refer the reader to remarks by the High Representative following the Council meeting.

48.2 In those remarks, the High Representative/Vice President (Baroness Ashton) said that she wished to concentrate on three of the discussions held by the Council, and then said:

"The first one of these was to talk about Lebanon. I know a lot of you are very interested in that. So let me begin by saying how committed we are to stability, sovereignty, unity, and peace in Lebanon. We strongly support all institutions in their efforts to preserve peace and security. We also encourage Lebanon's policy of dissociation from the conflict in Syria.

"Due to concerns over the role of Hezbollah, we have agreed to designate its Military Wing on the list of terrorist organisations. That does not prevent the continuation of dialogue with all political parties in Lebanon. We also agreed that the delivery of legitimate financial transfers to Lebanon and delivery of assistance from the European Union and its Member States will not be affected. Our position will be reviewed on a six-monthly basis, which is the normal timeframe for review in circumstances such as this."[182]

Common Position 2001/931/CFSP

48.3 The EU first adopted restrictive measures against persons and entities involved in terrorist acts in December 2001, in the wake of the terrorist attacks on 11 September that year. The EU list was established in order to implement UNSCR 1373 (2001), adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. To that end, the EU adopted Council Common Position 2001/931/CFSP on the application of specific measures to combat terrorism and Council Regulation (EC) No. 2580/2001 on specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities with a view to combating terrorism.

48.4 Common Position 2001/931/CFSP lays down the criteria for listing persons, groups or entities involved in terrorist acts and identifies the actions that constitute terrorist acts.

48.5 Council Regulation (EC) No. 2580/2001 provides for a freezing of all funds, other financial assets and economic resources belonging to the persons, groups and entities concerned. In addition, it establishes that no funds, other financial assets and economic resources may be made available to them, whether directly or indirectly. It also provides for humanitarian exemptions allowing the use of funds in certain circumstances such as payments for foodstuffs, medicines or legal fees.

48.6 All persons, groups and entities on the list annexed to Common Position 2001/931/CFSP, and subsequent amendments, are subject to enhanced measures relating to police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters within the framework of the Treaty on the European Union. In addition, those persons, groups and entities which are also on the list provided for in Council Regulation (EC) No. 2580/2001 are subject to an asset freeze implemented by the European Community.

48.7 A Working Party on implementation of Common Position 2001/931/CFSP (the CP 931 Working Party) is charged with examining proposals for listings and de-listings and with preparing the regular review of the list by the Council as foreseen in Article 1(6) of Common Position 2001/931/CFSP. Persons, groups and entities can be included on the list on the basis of proposals submitted by Member States or third States. All relevant information should be presented in support of proposals for listings. This information is circulated to the delegations of Member States for discussion in the CP 931 Working Party.

48.8 The CP 931 Working Party examines and evaluates information with a view to listing and de-listing of persons, groups and entities, and to assessing whether the information meets the criteria set out in Common Position 2001/931/CFSP. It then makes recommendations for listing and delisting to be reflected in the necessary legal instruments; once adopted by the Council, they are published in the Official Journal.

48.9 Article 1(3) of Common Position 2001/931/CFSP says that "Terrorist acts" mean intentional acts which, given their nature or context, may seriously damage a country or international organisation and which are defined as an offence under national law. These include:

  • attacks upon a person's life which may cause death;
  • attacks upon the physical integrity of a person;
  • kidnapping or hostage taking;
  • causing extensive destruction to a Government or public facility, a transport system, an infrastructure facility;
  • seizure of aircraft, ships or other means of public or goods transport;
  • manufacture, possession, acquisition, transport, supply or use of weapons, explosives, or of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons; and
  • participating in the activities of a terrorist group, including by supplying information or material resources, or by funding its activities in any way, with knowledge of the fact that such participation will contribute to the criminal activities of the group.

48.10 In order for these acts to constitute terrorist acts, they must be carried out with the aim of seriously intimidating a population, or unduly compelling a Government or an international organisation to perform or abstain from performing any act, or seriously destabilising or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an international organisation. [183]

The Council Decision and the Council Implementing Regulation

48.11 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 22 August 2013, the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) explains that, "following the Bourgas attack in Bulgaria in July 2012[184] and the recent guilty verdict in the Cypriot trial of a Hizballah operative,[185] the EU has agreed to list the Hizballah Military Wing on the 'CP931 list' ".

48.12 The Minister then explains that:

"Article 1 (4) of the Common Position outlines that a decision on the nature of an entity must have been taken by a competent authority before it is proposed for designation under the Common Position. In July 2008, the UK Government laid before Parliament an Order proscribing the Military Wing of Hizballah in its entirety, including the Jihad Council and all units reporting to it including the Hizballah External Security Organisation. A decision in respect of this group has thus been taken by a competent authority within the meaning of Article 1 (4) of Common Position 2001/931/CFSP. Their acts satisfy the requirements of Article 1 (2) and (3) of the Common Position."

48.13 He then says:

"Although the UK does not engage with Hizballah's political wing, some EU Member States engage with this political party in Lebanon and therefore had concerns over the effect of EU designation on their engagement. By differentiating between Hizballah's Political and Military Wings, the designation will not prevent those EU Member States who have contacts with Hizballah's political representatives from maintaining these. The military wing is defined as the Jihad Council of Hizballah and all units reporting to it, including the External Security Organisation. It is separate from the Political Wing of Hizballah, which includes its ministers, MPs and other political representatives and is overseen by a Political Council. This definition is the same as that which the Government used for the domestic proscription of the military wing in 2008, following Hizballah support for terrorist groups in Iraq and the Occupied Palestinian Territories."

48.14 With regard to the Fundamental Rights aspects of these measures, the Minister says:

"The procedures for designating individuals are compliant with fundamental rights. Provision is made for competent authorities of Member States to authorise the release of frozen funds where necessary in certain circumstances, for example, to satisfy the basic needs of listed persons or their dependents and where necessary for extraordinary expenses. Decisions by competent authorities of Member States in this regard would be subject to challenge in Member State's courts. Prohibitions on the transfer of funds and financial services are exempted where necessary for humanitarian purposes, or where necessary for supply of foodstuffs, medical equipment or provision of health care. Provision is also made for exemptions to the travel ban on grounds of urgent humanitarian need.

"The principal Decision, Common Position 2001/931/CFSP, respects the fundamental rights and observes the principles recognised in particular by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and notably the right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial.

"In addition the Council keeps the measures under review."

The Government's view

48.15 The Minister comments as follows:

"EU designation of Hizballah's military wing under CP931 makes it harder for the Military Wing to operate in Europe by imposing an asset freeze. It also increases Member State judicial and police cooperation in criminal matters by binding Member States to afford each other the widest possible assistance in preventing and combating terrorist acts perpetrated by the Military Wing. Designation is therefore a proactive step towards preventing any future attacks by this terrorist organisation on European soil. We have seen that the UK Government's national proscription has made it harder for Hizballah to carry out its terrorist activities in the UK. This effect will be replicated across the EU. Designation has also given a clear message from all EU Member States that we condemn the terrorist activities of its Military Wing and that terrorist actions on European soil will not go unpunished."

48.16 Finally, the Minister says:

"The Council Decision and Regulation were formally adopted on 26 July 2013. Both were classified EU Confidential up to the point of adoption. Following adoption, the Council Decision and Regulation were declassified and published in the Official Journal of the EU; at this point, the FCO deposited the documents for scrutiny."


48.17 The concerns of some Member States to which the Minister refers are set out in a BBC report of 5 February 2013 on the publication of the Bulgarian government's official inquiry, when the Interior Minister said two suspects holding Australian and Canadian passports were directly linked to Hezbollah and is quoted as saying:

"We have established that the two were members of the militant wing of Hezbollah"; and

"There is data showing the financing and connection between Hezbollah and the two suspects."

48.18 The BBC report also says:

"Long before this official report was released by the Bulgarian authorities, Israel had accused Hezbollah (and its principal sponsor, Iran) of being behind the Burgas attack.

"Since the July 2012 bombing, Israel and the US have pressed European Union states to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation (denying it access to funding and other financial assets in Europe).

"While some, including Britain and the Netherlands, might support such a move, other countries, such as France, oppose it. France counters that Hezbollah is a political and social as well as a militant organisation.

"The French argue that proscribing it as an illegal terrorist organisation could destabilise Lebanon and its current coalition government, of which Hezbollah is part."[186]

48.19 We leave it to others to decide the rights and wrongs of these measures. As no other questions arise, we now clear the Council Decision and the Council Implementing Regulation.

182 Back

183   See the 2008 EU Fact Sheet on the EU list of persons, groups and entities subject to specific measures to combat terrorism, available at  Back

184   When a suicide bomber killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian driver on a bus. Back

185   Where a Hezbollah operative was found guilty of planning attacks against Israeli citizens. Back

186   See Back

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Prepared 23 September 2013