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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on arms exports: implementation of Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP

5.6.2013 - (2013/2657(RSP))

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Anneli Jäätteenmäki, Graham Watson on behalf of the ALDE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0260/2013

Postupak : 2013/2657(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on Arms export: implementation of the Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP


The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December 2008 defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment[1],

–   having regard to the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council of 19 November 2012 on the review of the Common Position,

–   having regard to the ongoing process, within the Council Working Party on Conventional Arms Exports (COARM), of reviewing the Common Position, which, pursuant to Article 15 thereof, must be reviewed three years after its adoption,

–   having regard to COARM’s Thirteenth and Fourteenth Annual Reports[2],

–   having regard to the list of dual-use goods and technology set out in the annexes to Regulation (EU) No 1232/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 November 2011 amending Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 setting up a Community regime for the control of exports, transfer, brokering and transit of dual-use items,

–   having regard to Regulation 1236/2005 concerning trade in certain goods which could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the review thereof in 2013 provided for in the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy,

–   having regard to Directive 2009/43/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 May 2009 simplifying terms and conditions of transfers of defence-related products within the Community,

–   having regard to Council Joint Action 2002/589/CFSP of 12 July 2002 on the European Union’s contribution to combating the destabilising accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons and repealing Joint Action 1999/34/CFSP, and to the EU Strategy to combat illicit accumulation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition, adopted by the European Council on 15-16 December 2005[3],

–   having regard to Council Common Position 2003/468/CFSP of 23 June 2003 on the control of arms brokering,

–   having regard to the updated Common Military List of the European Union of 27 February 2012[4],

–   having regard to the regularly updated User’s Guide to Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP defining common rules governing the control of exports of military technology and equipment[5],

–   having regard to the Wassenaar Arrangement of 12 May 1996 on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, together with the lists, updated in 2011 and 2012, of those goods and technologies and munitions[6],

–   having regard to the United Nations international Arms Trade Treaty establishing common binding standards for the global trade in conventional arms,

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 June 2012 on the negotiations on the UN Arms Trade Treaty[7],

–   having regard to Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union and to Article 346 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas arms exports have an impact on human security and must therefore be embedded within a transparent and effective arms control system;

B.  whereas the Member States have recognised that the trade in military technology and equipment is no ordinary trade and that particular caution has to be exercised as regards exports of items falling into that category;

C. whereas according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the EU Member States, taken as a whole, are the world’s second-largest arms exporter, only slightly behind the United States, and whereas a growing proportion of arms are being delivered to countries outside the EU;

D. whereas the main extra-EU destinations of arms transfers by the Member States are the Middle East, North America and Asia; whereas the main country recipients are Saudi Arabia, the United States and the United Arab Emirates;

E.  whereas the industry is calling for an expansion in arms exports, and whereas that call is being backed by many politicians and political parties as a contribution to strengthening the European defence industry, technological know-how, security of supply, and preparedness;

F.  whereas Common Position 2008/944/CFSP is an intergovernmental cooperation instrument and legally binding framework which lays down eight criteria, and whereas if those criteria are not met an export licence should be denied (in the case of criteria 1 to 4) or consideration should at least be given to doing so (in the case of criteria 5 to 8);

G. whereas there is no sanctions mechanism for breaches of the Common Position;

H. whereas the process of taking decisions to grant or deny arms export licences lies solely within the remit of the Member States; whereas the validity of the eight criteria is interpreted differently, meaning that arms export practices vary across the EU;

I.   whereas Article 10 of the Common Position states that while Member States may take into account the effect of proposed exports on their economic, social, commercial and industrial interests, such considerations should not compromise the application of the criteria underlying the Common Position;

J.   whereas civil society, researchers and NGOs have commendably brought the shortcomings of the Common Position to light;

1.  Commends the EU for putting in place the first regional legally binding arrangement on conventional arms exports and considers it regrettable that the EU still does not have a common policy on arms transfers to third countries;

2.  Maintains that the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Position should not be at variance; considers that it is up to the Member States and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to ensure the coherence of the Common Position and foreign policy;

3.  Calls for the Member States to comply fully with the commonly agreed rules and criteria;

4.  Is of the opinion that the language adopted in the User’s Guide to Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP should be more accurate and less subject to interpretation, and that the guide should continue to be updated as necessary;

5.  Notes that COARM’s annual reports have made Member States’ arms exports more transparent; considers it regrettable, however, that data sets are incomplete and vary on account of individual Member States’ differing data collection and submission procedures;

6.  Reminds the Member States to make a full, annual submission of information on their arms transfers to COARM as agreed and laid down in the Common Position;

7.  Calls for an analysis of how the Common Position is implemented in national systems; is of the opinion that COARM’s capacity to analyse arms export control should be strengthened;

8.  Is of the opinion that a standardised verification and reporting system should be established to provide regular information as to whether, and to what extent, individual Member States’ exports violate the eight criteria;

9.  Takes the view that the Common Position should be complemented by a regularly updated, publicly accessible list providing information on the extent to which exports to particular recipient countries are, or are not, in line with the eight criteria; notes, however, that licensing decisions are based on case-by-case deliberation by the Member States;

10. Takes the view that government officials responsible for issuing national export licences should be regularly consulted at COARM meetings, since they can make an important contribution to implementing the Common Position and help to improve the quality of the information exchanged; considers, furthermore, that consultation should extend to civil society organisations addressing the issue of arms export control and to defence industry representatives;

11. Stresses that an enhanced system of end-user checks and post-transfer verification should be established to allow for better exchange of information between the Member States, and that the EU delegations should be provided with resources to assist the Member States in implementing the system appropriately;

12. Is of the opinion that an improved system allowing for regular, up-to-date exchanges of information between Member States on arms transfers to ex-embargo states should be set up;

13. Calls for an annual debate in Parliament, together with an annual report, on the implementation of the Common Position, so as to ensure the appropriate degree of parliamentary oversight and transparency at European level;

14. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice‑President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission and the parliaments and governments of the Member States.