• Lack of uniform implementation of EU’s arms export control
  • Need for supervisory body and sanctions mechanism
  • Saudi Arabia should face EU arms embargo

The EU’s arms export control should be upgraded by setting up a supervisory body and sanctions mechanism for those member states not following minimum requirements, said MEPs on Tuesday.

Foreign affairs committee MEPs are alarmed at arms races in the world and at military approaches to solve political conflict. They urge the EU member states to improve the implementation of the Common Position, which sets the minimum requirement on arms export control, in order to enhance the security of civilians suffering from conflicts and human rights abuses in third countries.


MEPs criticise member states for violating their common arms export control system and taking conflicting decisions on arms export, though weapons to be exported are essentially alike and reach similar destinations and end-users. They also regret that only 20 member states fully reported on their arms export.


To remedy the situation foreign affairs MEPs advocate:

- setting up of an arms control supervisory body under the auspices of the High Representative;

- creating a mechanism which sanctions those member states which do not comply with the Common Position;

- expanding the list of arms export criteria, by adding the risk of corruption amongst them;

- increasing the transparency on arms export reporting by providing more and timely information on export licences and turning the EU annual report into a searchable online database by the end of 2018;

- creating effective post-shipment controls to ensure that arms are not being re-exported to unauthorised end users.


Foreign affairs MEPs also say that arms export to Saudi Arabia breaches EU’s common position. They repeat European Parliament’s call on the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to impose an EU arms embargo on Saudi Arabia.




Parliaments’ rapporteur Bodil Valero (Greens, SV) said: “The Parliament calls on Member States to better comply with the EU criteria on arms exports, not only when it comes to preventing internal repression in recipient countries or avoiding armed conflict, but also for the sake of the security of the EU and its citizens. Among other things, we call for increased exchange of information on arms exports between Member States, more transparency and the possibility of sanctions against Member States not complying with the rules”.


Next steps


The resolution on arms export was approved by 36 votes to 14, with 14 abstention. The full House is to vote on it at the September plenary session in Strasbourg.


Quick facts


EU28 is the second largest arms supplier in the world (26% of global arms export), after the USA (33 %) and before Russia (23 %).


The EU's Common Position on arms exports is the only legally binding region-wide arrangement on conventional arms exports. It list eight criteria which member states have to apply when taking a decision on arms export licence: respect for the international obligations and commitments, particularly sanctions; respect for human rights and international humanitarian law by the recipient country; the internal situation in the recipient country; risks to regional peace, security and stability; national security of the Member States as well of their friends and allies; behaviour of the buyer country towards the international community, including its attitude to terrorism and respect for international law; risk of diversion towards an unauthorised end-user or end-use; and compatibility of the arms exports with sustainable development in the recipient country.