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Parliamentary questions
28 September 2005
E-2920/2005
Answer given by Mrs Ferrero-Waldner on behalf of the Commission

1. Member States have, up to now, on the basis of the derogation provided by Article 296 (ex-Article 223) of the EC Treaty, exempted the trade in arms from the scope of application of Treaty rules. Article 296 states that: ‘any Member State may take such measures as it considers necessary for the protection of the essential interests of its security which are connected with the production of, or trade in, arms, munitions and war material.’ Therefore, the Commission does not possess the knowledge or the authority to comment on the detail of Member States practices with regard to conventional arms transfers. The arms trade is currently considered in the context of the common foreign and security policy (CFSP), to which the Commission is fully associated.

2. The Commission can agree that the EU code of conduct on arms exports adopted on 8 June 1998 was an important step forward in the regional control of conventional arms transfers. The adoption of the code of conduct marked a qualitative improvement in the EU's approach to arms exports as an element of the common foreign and security policy.

3. As is stated in the code of conduct, the decision to transfer or deny a transfer rests at the discretion of each Member State. The Commission is not in a position to comment on the alleged circumventions of the code of conduct.

4. Member States have undertaken a review of the code of conduct; a process in which the Commission has been fully associated. As a consequence, the code of conduct has been revised to include several new elements in order to strengthen and widen its application. This process included consideration of whether the code should be made into a legally binding common position. Political agreement has now been reached on the text of a draft common position. The Council is expected to formally adopt the common position at an appropriate time.

5. Given that responsibility for controlling the export of military equipment remains with Member States, it follows that it is up to each Member State to ensure that its national legislation enables them to adequately control any transfer or disposal of such equipment. The Commission believes that it is important to ensure that such transfers are responsible and do not contribute to conflict. The Commission will continue to encourage best practice.

6. The Commission strongly supports opening negotiations on an International Arms Trade Treaty. An international instrument to promote high standards of responsibility in the arms trade is clearly desirable. The Commission recognises the negative impact of irresponsible exports of conventional military equipment on conflict, development and human safety in some of the most vulnerable parts of the world. Agreement of a robust Arms Trade Treaty would be of great value in reducing the proliferation and destabilising accumulation of, among other things, small arms and light weapons which help fuel conflict and impede socioeconomic development around the world, particularly in Africa.

OJ C 327, 30/12/2006
Seneste opdatering: 31. maj 2006Juridisk meddelelse