BRUSSELS -- The European Union has adopted a new legal tool to slap penalties on those found responsible for cyberattacks on the bloc's member states, as well as third countries and international organizations.
EU finance ministers meeting in Brussels on May 17 approved the sanctions regime allowing the 28-nation bloc to impose asset freezes and travel bans on individuals, firms, and state bodies outside the bloc that are involved in cyberattacks attacks.
The framework "allows the EU to impose targeted restrictive measures to deter and respond to cyberattacks," a statement said, adding that sanctions will be considered if a cyberattack is determined to have had a "significant impact" on its target.
European officials are on alert to any attempts to undermine the European Parliament elections on May 23-26 via disinformation campaigns and cyberattacks.
Officials have accused Russia of conducting a hacking campaign against the West.
Russia is accused of being behind an attempt to hack into the network of the global chemical-weapons watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, in the Netherlands last year.
The agency had been investigating the nerve-agent attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain last year, as well as the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government.
Russia has denied any involvement.