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A European Arms Export Control: My Draft Regulation

Conflicts in crisis areas are still fuelled by European weapons - although the majority of European citizens oppose this. Weapons are not like any other export goods and require strict and transparent export controls. How can this look like in practice at EU level? For this, I recently presented a draft together with my Finnish colleague Alviina Alametsä on behalf of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament. At the same time, a Europe-wide campaign for better arms export controls at EU level has been launched.

Some background information: Currently, export decisions for arms produced in the EU are taken at the national level. Member states are expected to comply with the so-called "Common Position", which sets out eight criteria for exporting arms to countries outside the EU and aims to prevent arms exports to crisis regions or exports that contribute to human rights abuses. However, the criteria are currently interpreted differently by each EU member state. This leads to loopholes or to different, sometimes even contradictory national export decisions and practices. An obvious example is arms exports to Saudi Arabia, where several EU Member States - including Germany - imposed a ban, while others - such as France - continued to export arms.  

What would change with our regulation?

With the recent establishment of the European Defence Fund (EDF), the EU will massively subsidise joint research and development of military technology in cooperation between several member states, thus promoting a more expansive arms export policy. However, once it becomes easier for member states to cooperate in arms production, this must go hand in hand with a stronger role for the EU. This is the only way to ensure coherence and compliance with our common criteria. With that in mind, we would like to consider a new approach. We propose an EU arms export control regime which, while leaving the final decision on exports at national level (anything else is incompatible with the EU Treaties), puts

  • risk assessments in the run-up to the final decision, as well as
  • monitoring and end-user control

at EU level.

You can read the draft regulation here.

The #EU-Arms campaign

The Greens/EFA campaign wants to put pressure on the European Commission to finally tackle the issue of arms exports and get a regulation on the way. After all, our draft is now ready, and can serve as a template! Have a look at the Greens/EFA website where you can find out how to take part in the campaign. For example, you can send a virtual postcard demanding stricter arms export controls at EU level to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The issue of European arms exports has been taken up by various media in different countries. For example, there is a German article by "Spiegel", an English one by "Politico", a Spanish one by "elDiario", a Dutch one by "nrc" and a Greek one by "Reporters United". Feel free to read them!

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