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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

Michael Gahler, José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Elmar Brok, Arnaud Danjean, Mairead McGuinness, Krzysztof Lisek, Tunne Kelam, Elena Băsescu on behalf of the PPE 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 exports: implementation of 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 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 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[2],

–   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[4],

–   having regard to the updated Common Military List of the European Union of 27 February 2012[5],

–   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[6],

–   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[7],

–   having regard to the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council, adopted at its meeting of 25 June 2012, expressing EU support for a United Nations International Arms Trade Treaty establishing common standards binding on the global trade in conventional arms[8] and the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions of 27-28 May 2013,

–   having regard to its resolution of 18 January 2007 on the Council’s Seventh and Eighth Annual Reports according to Operative Provision 8 of the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports[9],

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 June 2012 on the negotiations on the UN Arms Trade Treaty[10],

–   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 can have, inter alia, a considerable impact not only on security, but also on development, and whereas it is therefore important to strengthen the European Union’s export control policy for military technology and equipment;

B.  whereas Common Position 2008/944/CFSP is a legally binding framework laying 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);

C. whereas the third countries Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Canada, Croatia, Montenegro and Norway have officially aligned themselves with the Common Position’s criteria and principles;

D. whereas, under Article 3 of the Common Position, the eight criteria set minimum standards only and are without prejudice to more restrictive arms control measures by Member States;

E.  whereas Article 10 of the Common Position clearly states that the Member States, where appropriate, may also take into account the effect of proposed exports on their economic, social, commercial and industrial interests, and that these factors must not affect the application of the above criteria;

F.  whereas the Common Position defines the broadest common understanding for the control of exports of military technology and equipment serving the coordination of national export control systems;

G. whereas a development towards a stronger verification and reporting system has been observed since the presentation of the annual Council reports in accordance with Article 8(2) of Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment; whereas the Member States are to overcome legislative and organisational obstacles in order to achieve better compliance with the eight criteria independently verified;

H. whereas significant progress has been made on reaching agreement between the Member States with regard to applying and interpreting the Common Position’s eight criteria, principally thanks to the Common Position User’s Guide, drawn up by COARM, which gives detailed definitions of best practices with regard to the application of the criteria;

I.   whereas the events of the Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have shown that the Common Position has been implemented effectively; whereas those events have indeed been discussed at almost every COARM meeting held since the beginning of 2011, and whereas those meetings made it possible to harmonise the required review of Member States’ national policies with regard to exports to the countries concerned; whereas this consultation process between Member States has been accompanied by enhanced due diligence measures, suspension measures and measures to postpone authorisation, and whereas, as a result of the existing information exchange mechanisms both within and outside COARM, it was possible for the various Member States to take these decisions swiftly;

J.   whereas in recent years Member States have exported military technology and equipment to differing extents to various world regions;

K. whereas the industry is calling for an expansion of arms exports in order to offset the forecast slackening in demand within the EU, as a contribution towards strengthening Europe’s arms industry base;

L.  whereas the defence industry remains an important industry and employer in the EU, contributing significantly to jobs and development, which is particularly valuable in times of economic and financial crisis;

M. whereas R&D in the defence industry has an important spill-over effect contributing to numerous civilian applications;

N. whereas owing to significant cuts in defence budgets since the start of the economic crisis in 2008, exports play an ever more important role for the defence industry;

1.  Notes that, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the EU Member States, taken as a whole, outrank the US and Russia as the world’s largest arms exporter[11] and that an ever increasing proportion of arms exports – 61 % in 2011[12] – is being delivered to countries outside the EU;

2.  Acknowledges that the EU is the only union of states to have a legally binding framework, unique in the world, through which arms export control is being improved, including in crisis regions and countries with questionable human rights records, and welcomes the fact, in this connection, that European and non-European third countries have joined the arms exports control system on the basis of the Common Position; notes, however, that the eight criteria are applied and interpreted with varying degrees of rigour in the EU Member States; calls, therefore, for more uniform interpretation and implementation of the Common Position with all its obligations;

3.  Takes note of the fact that the control of compliance with the criteria takes place in accordance with national regulations; is of the opinion that national parliaments or specific parliamentary bodies must carry out effective control of the application of the criteria;

4.  Welcomes the adoption by the Council of the updated version of the Wassenaar Arrangement Munitions List, in which all the 2011 changes to the munitions list are taken into account; calls on the Council also to adopt the most recent changes made in 2011 to, inter alia, the List of Dual-Use Goods and agreed by an experts group in December 2012;

5.  Calls on the Member States, with regard to export controls and application of the eight criteria, to pay greater attention to all military technology and equipment as mentioned in Common Position 288/944/CFSP;

6.  Calls, furthermore, for the criteria of Common Position 2008/944/CFSP to be better applied before new ones are suggested;

7.  Underscores the important role of national parliaments and the European Parliament in both implementing and enforcing the Common Position’s agreed standards at national and EU level and in establishing a transparent, accountable control system; calls, therefore, for a transparent and robust control mechanism which bolsters the role of parliaments;

8.  Stresses the significance and legitimacy of parliamentary oversight of data relating to arms export control, and of how that control is carried out, and therefore calls for the necessary measures, backing and information to ensure that this oversight function is performed to the full;

9.  Welcomes the conclusion, under United Nations auspices, of a legally binding Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on international trade in conventional arms after seven years of long negotiations, creating an effective international arms control system, through greater transparency and accountability, and establishing the highest international standards, thus making the irresponsible and illicit use of conventional arms ever more difficult;

10. Recognises that with the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty by the UN General Assembly, the international community has shown strong commitment to regulating the international arms trade in line with the principles of transparency and accountability;

11. Stresses the importance of effective and credible implementation of the ATT;

12. Recognises the coherent and consistent role played by the EU and its Member States in support of the international process to establish binding rules governing the international arms trade;

13. 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, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Secretary‑General of the United Nations.