The decisions to impose sanctions on Russia and to lift them on Iran, in opposition to the wishes of the United States, contributed to the elevation of the profile of the European Union among the main global actors in international politics. However, the EU imposes sanctions since the spring of 1994, shortly after the entry into force of the Treaty of Maastricht. Even though the EU consequently has 26 years of experience herewith, EU sanctions have been mostly studied only on a case-by-case basis. The aim of this article is to provide an up-to-date and comprehensive overview of the experience of the EU with sanctions. Specifically, it presents the results of a newly constructed database of EU autonomous sanctions constituted by 48 cases of these restrictive measures, which have been subdivided in 85 episodes. The analysis revolves around four questions that we asked in each case: when sanctions were in force, what type(s) were used, where the targets were located and why restrictive measures were imposed. The analysis of the empirical database leads to observations about the EU as an international actor and, more generally, on the trends vis-a-vis the utilisation of sanctions as a foreign policy instrument.