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Parliamentary questions
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4 June 2018
Answer given by High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini
Question reference: E-000281/2018

The European Union (EU) is committed to addressing the issue of diversion of arms and ammunition. When it comes to the EU Common Position 2008/944/CFSP, it is important to note that exporting military technology and equipment is a competence of EU Member States. It is also their responsibility to assess the risks prior to authorising an arms transaction.

Attached to the Common Position is a User's Guide that suggests ways to make operational the criteria in the Common Position. These criteria include assessing the risk that the arms might be used for internal repression or international aggression, for violations of human rights or international humanitarian law.

The Common Position also provides for transparency among EU Member States on the exports of military equipment and technology: the EU Council reports every year on the implementation of the Common Position and provides detailed information on the destination and volume of arms exports authorised by EU Member States.

The EU's reports also give information on the number of denials per destination. Such denials demonstrate that the risk assessment regarding the destination in question can be negative and that not all arms exports are necessarily authorised. In 2016, there were 18 denials to Saudi Arabia. The Council Working Party on Arms Exports (COARM) regularly addresses the policies of Member States on arms transfers to Saudi Arabia.

Regarding the suggestion of an EU arms embargo against Saudi Arabia, any decision on issuing an arms embargo lies fully with the Council. Deciding an arms embargo would require political agreement by unanimity within the Council.

Last updated: 5 June 2018Legal notice