On 4 November 2011 it was reported(1) that, a.o, the Italian company Area SpA is equipping the Syrian Government with the technology to intercept, scan and catalogue all Internet traffic in Syria, by probing the traffic of mobile phone companies and ISPs, capturing both domestic and international traffic. Over the past months similar transactions have been reported(2).
1. Is the VP/HR aware of these reports and what concrete actions have been taken to investigate and address these business policies? If none, does the VP/HR approve these transactions?
2. Are EU (based) companies under EU legislation (including sanctions and restrictive measures) allowed to sell monitoring and surveillance technologies to governments, and in particular to Syria, that will use these tools to violate human rights? If so, is the VP/HR willing to seek ways to end these exports? If not, why not?
3. Can the VP/HR explain how the EU’s and the Member States’ responsibilities are divided regarding the export of technologies? Will the VP/HR support or push for changes to the current (dual-use export mechanism) framework in order to establish greater involvement by the Commission, in addressing human rights concerns related to EU exports of technologies? If not, why not?
4. Can the VP/HR confirm that the deployment of employees in Syria by EU (based) companies is not covered by Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 of 5 May 2009, but by the Council Joint Action of 22 June 2000 concerning the control of technical assistance related to certain military end‑uses?
5. Can the VP/HR indicate whether she can and will invoke the Joint Action to block further technical assistance to the Syrian Government? If not, why not?
6. Can the VP/HR explain what the Italian Government can and should do to prevent Area SpA from continuing its business in Syria, in particular the completion of the monitoring centre?
7. How can and will the EU and/or the Member States assist EU (based) companies in annulling business contracts with governments if the related products or services are used to violate human rights?
8. Does the VP/HR agree that (active) involvement of EU (based) companies in human rights violation undermines the credibility of the EU’s common foreign and security policy?