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Debates
Wednesday, 3 July 2013 - Strasbourg Revised edition

19. Arms exports: implementation of Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP (debate)
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  Przewodniczący. − Kolejnym punktem porządku dnia jest oświadczenie wiceprzewodniczącej Komisji/wysokiej przedstawiciel Unii do spraw zagranicznych i polityki bezpieczeństwa w sprawie wywozu broni: wdrażanie wspólnego stanowiska Rady 2008/944/WPZiB.

 
  
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  Vytautas Leškevičius, President-in-Office of the Council, on behalf of the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. − Mr President, thank you for the opportunity to exchange views, on behalf of the High Representative and Vice-President of the Commission, on the question of the implementation of the common position by EU Member States and its current ongoing review.

Our common position is one of the most developed instruments in the world to regulate and harmonise arms exports. It finds its origin in the 1998 EU Code of Conduct, which evolved into a legally binding CFSP common position in 2008. Its main purpose is to make EU Member States’ arms exports more responsible and transparent. It does so by requiring that arms exports from EU Member States be duly controlled and authorised before weapons are shipped abroad. It has served, and continues to serve, as a reference also for third countries in the EU neighbourhood and beyond which are willing to improve their regulations on arms exports.

According to the provisions of the common position, Member States are requested to assess any arms exports outside the EU against a set of parameters that include the risk of the exported arms contributing to a serious violation of international humanitarian law and human rights, the risk of diversion to unintended users, and the impact of exported arms on regional stability and possible internal conflicts. At the same time the common position stipulates that each export application should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. This means that issues such as the specific end-users, the quantity and type of weapons and the circumstances under which the export takes place are all factors to be taken into account. This also implies that the fact that a certain arms export is denied to a certain country does not mean that a particular country is or should be under an EU arms embargo. The EU has developed specific sanction tools that are very distinct from the scope of application of the common position covering weapons that can potentially be transferred.

By establishing a set of common export criteria and a specific consultation mechanism, the common position also contributes to the gradual harmonisation of EU Member States’ national arms export policies and to the avoidance of any undercutting among them. This objective is being attained in particular through the export and denials exchange mechanism, which requires that every Member State, before taking a decision on an export application similar to one denied by another Member State in the past, shall consult the other Member State in question. Member States also regularly exchange views on arms export policies towards specific destinations in the Council working party responsible for the implementation of the common position, that is to say, the COARM working party.

The common position certainly represents a very advanced instrument in the field of arms export control. It also contains specific provisions concerning its implementation that should be fully borne in mind when assessing its functioning. Notwithstanding the common framework provided by it for our 28 Member States, actual decisions on each and every arms export continue to be taken at national level by the relevant state authorities in our Member States. Consequently, the risk assessments conducted by single Member States for similar export applications can be different and lead to a different result. In a way one could claim that the common position establishes an obligation of process but not of result for Members States conducting risk assessments on export applications. This is an important aspect that should be borne in mind when considering what obligations the common position imposes on Member States and when it is appropriate to refer to its possible violation.

At the same time, Member States continue to be held accountable for their arms export decisions, thanks to the fact that the common position contains very solid transparency provisions, including the requirement for EU Member States and the EU as a whole to publish very detailed EU annual reports on arms exports. These reports meet the highest standards in terms of publicly available data relating to arms exports. Transparency is a prerequisite for responsibility, and these reports constitute an outstanding tool for public opinion, for civil society and, most importantly, for the European Parliament and national parliaments to fully exercise their democratic scrutiny over governmental decisions on arms exports.

Let me now say a few words on the ongoing review of the common position, which fell due three years after its adoption in December 2009. The review started in early 2012, following a thorough analysis based on a detailed questionnaire to which all the EU Member States responded. The preliminary results of the review have confirmed the appropriateness of the current text of the common position, as the Foreign Affairs Council noted in its conclusions of 19 November 2012 while also noting that further work is needed in the actual implementation of its provisions. The COARM Council working party continues to work on the improvement of several implementation aspects of the common position, including information-sharing on sensitive destinations and the development of denial notification exchanges. Their overall objective is to increase the amount and added value of the information shared, with a view to increasing consistency in Member State decisions, based on more relevant and more timely information-sharing among Member States.

These improvements should eventually be reflected, inter alia, in a fully updated version of the user’s guide, a politically binding document developed by COARM that provides guidance in the application and interpretation of the common position. The European Parliament and civil society have been and continue to be kept fully involved and informed along the different stages of the review, including through six-monthly dedicated COARM-NGO meetings and regular hearings of the COARM Chair in the Subcommittee on Security and Defence.

Beyond the EU, it is worth remembering that the common position is also applied by a number of third countries in the EU’s close neighbourhood. The EU has also been promoting the application of the criteria and transparency requirements of the common position in third countries through an ambitious and long-term outreach and assistance programme under the CFSP budget, including the latest Council decision, adopted in November 2012, to allocate EUR 1.8 million for this purpose.

Finally, the EU has also been at the forefront in promoting the improvement of arms export control at a global level through the strong and visible role played in the Arms Trade Treaty negotiations in the UN. The ATT was adopted on 2 April 2013 by the UN General Assembly and represents a milestone in the global regulation of the arms trade. The Treaty sets, for the first time, common transfer parameters and significant transparency provisions that will be applicable to all state parties to the Treaty. The ATT has the full potential to make trade in arms more responsible and transparent, thus contributing to international peace and security and to the reduction of human suffering and arms violence for all citizens in the world. In order to enter into force the treaty needs to be ratified by at least 50 UN States.

The EU Member States have expressed their strong wish to ratify the treaty as soon as possible and you, honourable Members, have a considerable role to play in this context. Indeed, since the ATT covers some issues of EU competence, the consent of the European Parliament will be sought before the Council can authorise its ratification by EU Member States. We count on your support in ensuring that this process can be completed as swiftly as possible and that we can provide the critical mass of our 28 EU Member States to reach the entry-into-force threshold.

 
  
  

PRÉSIDENCE DE MME ISABELLE DURANT
Vice-présidente

 
  
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  Michael Gahler, im Namen der PPE-Fraktion. – Frau Präsidentin, liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen! Waffen sind keine Waren wie alle anderen. Wenn sie in falsche Hände geraten, können sie viel Schaden anrichten. Wenn sie unter Kontrolle verantwortlicher Regierungen bleiben, können sie abschreckende Wirkung auf Aggressoren haben. Gelegentlich müssen sie auch zur Verteidigung demokratischer Staaten oder gar zur Wiederherstellung des Selbstbestimmungsrechts der Völker eingesetzt werden.

Aus all diesen Gründen ist es gut, dass wir uns gemeinsame Regeln und Genehmigungsverfahren für den Export von Militärtechnologie und -ausrüstung gegeben haben. So etwas wie wir hat keine andere Staatengemeinschaft, und offenbar sind diese Regeln auch so attraktiv, dass glücklicherweise auch Drittstaaten diese Regeln anwenden.

Der Gemeinsame Standpunkt aus dem Jahr 2008 ist ein rechtlich bindender Rahmen mit acht Kriterien. Die Präsidentschaft hat auf die Arbeit der Ratsarbeitsgruppe COARM hingewiesen, die einen user guide zur einheitlichen Interpretation und Anwendung der Kriterien erarbeitet hat.

Wir stellen fest, dass natürlich wir als Parlament in dieser Frage nicht in der Mitentscheidung sind. Das ist keine Gemeinschaftsangelegenheit, sondern die Mitgliedstaaten sind diejenigen, die verantwortlich sind für die Anwendung und auch Interpretation in jedem einzelnen Fall. Daher kommt aber unseren Kollegen auf der nationalen Ebene eine Rolle zu, darauf zu achten, in den nationalen Parlamenten ihre Regierung auf die korrekte Anwendung dieses Gemeinsamen Standpunktes hin zu kontrollieren. Kohärenz herzustellen auf EU-Ebene ist dann Aufgabe auch unter Führung der Hohen Vertreterin. Und wir als Europäisches Parlament möchten darüber auch regelmäßig unterrichtet werden.

Wir unterstützen als Fraktion natürlich auch den Arms Trade Treaty, dass der bald in Kraft tritt und Anwendung findet.

 
  
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  Μαρία-Ελένη Κοππά, εξ ονόματος της ομάδας S&D. – Κυρία Πρόεδρε, το ζήτημα της σωστής εφαρμογής της κοινής θέσης για την εξαγωγή όπλων δεν είναι τεχνικό. Είναι ζήτημα ύψιστης πολιτικής σημασίας, που αφορά το κατά πόσο θέλουμε να είμαστε στην πραγματικότητα συνεπείς στις δεσμεύσεις μας για την προστασία των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων και την εκπλήρωση των αναπτυξιακών στόχων της χιλιετίας. Είναι λοιπόν ντροπή το γεγονός ότι το Ευρωπαϊκό Λαϊκό Κόμμα με τη λίγο-πολύ σιωπηρή υποστήριξη των Συντηρητικών και Φιλελεύθερων οδήγησαν στην καταψήφιση της σχετικής έκθεσης πρωτοβουλίας της συναδέλφου Lösing στην Επιτροπή Εξωτερικών Υποθέσεων. Τώρα παρουσιάζουν κοινή πρόταση ψηφίσματος, που δεν αναφέρει κανένα σχεδόν από τα ουσιαστικά προβλήματα. Η αλήθεια είναι ότι δεν επιθυμούν πραγματικό έλεγχο στην εξαγωγή όπλων, και εδώ είναι η διαφορά μας.

Εμείς επιμένουμε και τονίζουμε ξεκάθαρα και χωρίς υπεκφυγές την ανάγκη να σταματήσει η υποκρισία εκ μέρους των μεγάλων κατασκευαστών όπλων. Να υπάρξει διαφάνεια και έμπρακτη εφαρμογή της απαγόρευσης εξαγωγής σε δικτατορικά κράτη και σε κάθε περίπτωση όπου υπάρχει βάσιμη υποψία ότι μπορούν να χρησιμοποιηθούν για την καταστολή ελευθεριών και την καταπάτηση των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων.

(Η ομιλήτρια δέχεται να απαντήσει σε ερώτηση με γαλάζια κάρτα (άρθρο 149 παράγραφος 8 του Κανονισμού))

 
  
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  Krzysztof Lisek (PPE), pytanie zadane przez podniesienie „niebieskiej kartki”. – Szanowna Pani Poseł! Bardzo Panią szanuję, ale chciałbym tylko zapytać, czy Pani Poseł pamięta, jak na posiedzeniu komisji AFET przebiegało głosowanie nad wspomnianym przez Panią projektem sprawozdania pani poseł Lösing? Otóż wyglądało ono następująco: za sprawozdaniem nie głosował żaden poseł, jeden wstrzymał się od głosu, a wszyscy pozostali posłowie, kilkadziesiąt osób z wszystkich grup politycznych, głosowali przeciwko temu sprawozdaniu.

 
  
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  Μαρία-Ελένη Κοππά (S&D), απάντηση σε ερώτηση με γαλάζια κάρτα. – Αγαπητέ συνάδελφε, αν θυμάστε καλά, αποσύρατε την υποστήριξή σας από μία έκθεση στην οποία είχαμε σχεδόν συμφωνήσει. Λοιπόν, όλοι εδώ μέσα έχουμε μνήμη. Όλοι θυμόμαστε τι ακριβώς έχει γίνει. Μην ανοίξουμε μερικά θέματα που δεν συμφέρουν κανένα!

 
  
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  Norica Nicolai, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Madam President, I consider that we need a better or real implementation of the Council common position (CCP) but only in a manner that is sustainable and good for both the industry and the people that the CCP is supposed to protect.

Some parts of this initiative and some proposals are realistic in our opinion. We cannot ban weapon production or the sale of weapons, but we need to be able to have guarantees for all Member States that no problematic regime, non-state actor or paramilitary group is behind any weapons contract with their country. We should not kill off an important industry for Europe and we should not adopt a radical approach. It is important to promote better cooperation on the common position and enable the European Defence Agency to fully promote its implementation at Council level.

The problem is to achieve a balance between arms control and preserving and promoting the development and innovation of the European defence industry. The solution for me is the real integration and consolidation of our industry. For now, the compromise that we have reached on the common position is a step forward and we should be realistic before we blindly ask for more.

 
  
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  Tarja Cronberg, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Madam President, this is a very special situation. I would like to remind you that the EU has a common position on arms exports which is a unique agreement and political instrument that sets clear criteria for the EU’s arms trade. This year the UN also approved the Arms Trade Treaty. This is a positive trend. We need more transparency, more commitment and more progressive policy in this area.

There are two resolutions ready to be voted on. One is drafted by the S&D, Greens and GUE/NGL Groups – this resolution aims to improve the EU’s common position on issues such as corruption, transparency and consistency of appliance of the common criteria by Member States.

The other resolution, by the ALDE, EPP and ECR Groups, considers the common position good enough and is not driving it anywhere forward. Paradoxically, it is a step backwards, contrary to the efforts of all the Member States that signed the common position.

I would like to underline especially that the EPP/ALDE resolution is shameful on human rights. Respect for human rights is the key added value of the common position and also the new dimension of the ATT. It is particularly important given the situation in the Middle East and North Africa where the EU’s arms exports are directed. The human rights aspects are totally absent in the EPP/ALDE resolution. I can only conclude that the European Parliament is today ideologically divided between defensive human rights and the concerns of the military industry. The vote tomorrow is going to show on which side you stand.

 
  
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  Oldřich Vlasák, za skupinu ECR. – Paní předsedající, v souvislosti s projednávaným tématem bych chtěl upozornit na problém, kterému dlouhodobě čelí nejenom čeští vývozci. Jelikož Česká republika nemá moře, je vývoz našich zbraní do třetích zemí možné realizovat letecky, nebo ekonomičtějším způsobem lodí pomocí přístavů jiných členských zemí, a to zejména polských a německých. Na převoz zbraní však Německo a Polsko uvalují nutnost dodatečného schválení, čímž de facto ignorují exportní licence vydané zemí původu.

Podle mých informací jde v případě dodatečných licencí o politicky zaměřené rozhodnutí, jehož výsledkem je časté a záměrné zdržování celého procesu, nebo nevydání licence vůbec. Jelikož náklady letecké dopravy jsou několikanásobně vyšší než v případě dopravy lodní, stávají se naše firmy nekonkurenceschopnými a vznikají jim významné ekonomické škody. Jde přitom o obor s vysokou přidanou hodnotou, který má u nás doma dlouhou tradici a zaměstnává přímo či nepřímo desítky tisíc vysoce kvalifikovaných lidí.

Dámy a pánové, považuji za nepřijatelné, aby vnitrozemské státy byly v Evropské unii při vývozu zbraní diskriminovány. Žádám proto, aby se evropské orgány tímto problémem začaly usilovně zabývat a aby především prověřily, zda je nutnost dodatečného schvalování v souladu se zásadou přiměřenosti, tedy jestli s odkazem na článek 36 Smlouvy o fungování EU není omezen pohyb zboží více, než je nezbytně nutné.

 
  
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  Sabine Lösing, im Namen der GUE/NGL-Fraktion. – Frau Präsidentin! In Mali schießen Rebellen mit deutschen G3-Gewehren auf malische Soldaten und französische Soldaten. Deutschland schickt Soldaten zur Unterstützung der französischen Truppen und verkauft Waffen an Katar. Katar verkauft deutsche G3-Gewehre an malische Rebellen. Malische Rebellen schießen usw. usw. Das ist an Absurdität nicht zu überbieten! Doch es ist nicht nur das. Wir wissen, was passiert, wenn Rüstungs- und Überwachungstechnologie an autoritäre Staaten geliefert wird. Wir wissen, dass Menschen in diesen Staaten gemordet und gefoltert werden. Wir wissen um den Tod von Tausenden Menschen immer und immer wieder.

Um das zu verhindern, verabschiedeten die EU-Regierungen 2008 den Gemeinsamen Standpunkt zur Kontrolle der Rüstungsexporte. Aber wir wissen ja eben, wir sehen es, dass der nicht wirkt. Und er soll wohl auch nicht wirken, denn Waffenexporte sind nützlich – nützlich für die Profite der Waffenindustrie, aber auch nützlich, wenn man nützliche Partner für strategische Ziele ausrüsten will – so wie etwa die deutsche Kanzlerin Saudi-Arabien beliefern möchte. Und das soll für viele auch so bleiben.

Lehnte deshalb die konservative Mehrheit im Ausschuss für auswärtige Angelegenheiten meinen Bericht ab, in dem ich Vorschläge machte, diesen Gemeinsamen Standpunkt zu effektivieren? Vorschläge, die sehr breite Zustimmung in der Zivilgesellschaft fanden, aber auch von offiziellen christlichen Organisationen – auch von diesen Organisationen. Das sage ich hier an die Adresse derjenigen, die auch hier im Haus das Christliche auf ihren Fahnen tragen und die immer so deutlich machen, dass die EU eine Friedensunion sei.

Wer einen Schritt in Richtung EU als Friedensunion gehen will, der kann das morgen tun, der kann für die Gemeinsame Entschließung der Grünen, Sozialdemokraten und der GUE/NGL stimmen, die wesentliche Punkte meines abgelehnten Berichts beinhaltet und alle mit den Fraktionen gefundenen Kompromisse abdeckt.

An Herrn Lisek – zum Schluss möchte ich auch noch selbst auf seine Frage antworten: Die konservative Mehrheit hat meinen Bericht so verwässert, dass wir nur noch dagegen stimmen konnten. Und dann haben Sie selbst gegen diesen Bericht gestimmt. Warum eigentlich, Herr Lisek? Vielleicht können Sie in Ihrer Rede darauf antworten. Vielleicht, damit diese Debatte in diesem Haus niemals geführt wird.

 
  
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  Νικόλαος Σαλαβράκος, εξ ονόματος της ομάδας EFD. – Κυρία Πρόεδρε, η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση έχει διαδραματίσει πρωταγωνιστικό ρόλο στον έλεγχο των εξαγωγών όπλων τόσο σε περιφερειακό όσο και σε διεθνές επίπεδο. Ήδη από το 2008 το Συμβούλιο ενέκρινε τον κώδικα δεοντολογίας της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης για τις εξαγωγές όπλων, καθορίζοντας οκτώ κριτήρια για τις εξαγωγές αυτές. Τα τελευταία χρόνια είναι συνεχείς οι προσπάθειες για την ενίσχυση και εναρμόνιση των πολιτικών των κρατών μελών στο θέμα της εξαγωγής όπλων. Τα πρόσφατα γεγονότα στη Μέση Ανατολή και στη Βόρεια Αφρική είναι μια κρίσιμη δοκιμασία για τις κυβερνήσεις, για να αποδείξουν ότι παίρνουν στα σοβαρά την εφαρμογή μιας συνθήκης που βάζει τον άνθρωπο και την ασφάλειά του ως προτεραιότητες. Θα πρέπει να είμαστε πολύ προσεκτικοί ως προς τον εξοπλισμό χωρών με όπλα, ειδικότερα σε σχέση με τη Συρία, όπου η κατάσταση επιδεινώνεται. Οι αποφάσεις για την αποστολή όπλων εκεί και αλλού θα πρέπει να συνάδουν με τις αρχές της Συνθήκης. Υπάρχει σημαντικός κίνδυνος τα όπλα που παρέχονται σε ομάδες να χρησιμοποιηθούν για να διαπραχθούν άλλες πράξεις. Κυρία Πρόεδρε, το δικό μου όνειρο ήταν να μην υπάρχουν όπλα. Εκείνο το οποίο βλέπω είναι ότι όπου γίνονται συρράξεις τα πιο σύγχρονα όπλα υπάρχουν και στις πιο ακραίες ομάδες.

 
  
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  Krzysztof Lisek (PPE). - Pani Przewodnicząca! Panie Ministrze! Oczywiście wszyscy chcieliby żyć w świecie, w którym panuje pokój, w którym nikt z nikim nie walczy, w którym nie ma broni. Zgadzam się z przedmówcami, ale w takim świecie nie żyjemy i w tymże świecie, trzeba to jasno zauważyć, to właśnie Unia Europejska ma de facto najlepszy, najbardziej unikalny na skalę światową i działający system kontroli eksportu broni. Takiego systemu i takiego nadzoru nad eksportem broni nie mają ani Stany Zjednoczone, ani Rosja, ani Chiny, ani inni wielcy producenci uzbrojenia na świecie. Dzisiaj to Unia Europejska jest przykładem dla innych i – w tej kwestii się pewnie różnimy z panią poseł Lösing – ja uważam, że ta kontrola działa, jest skuteczna i na dzisiejsze czasy wystarczająca. Żadne z państw Unii Europejskiej w ostatnich latach nie eksportowało broni do państw objętych konfliktami zbrojnymi, do państw, które były w stanie wojny. I to jest podstawowa zasada, której na szczęście wszystkie państwa Unii Europejskiej produkujące uzbrojenie się trzymają.

I to Unia Europejska – warto to pamiętać – przyczyniła się do wypracowania standardów międzynarodowych, bo to państwa unijne inicjowały regulacje prawne, czyli traktat o handlu bronią przyjęty przez Zgromadzenie Ogólne ONZ na początku kwietnia. Ten traktat, miejmy nadzieję, przyczyni się do stabilności i – tutaj wierzę, że z panią poseł Lösing zajmujemy identyczny punkt widzenia – że przyczyni się do pokoju i bezpieczeństwa na świecie, że będzie przeciwdziałać terroryzmowi i przestępczości na całym świecie. To jest nasz wspólny cel.

 
  
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  Ana Gomes (S&D). - A União Europeia tem a responsabilidade de combater o tráfico de armas que alimenta conflitos nas regiões mais vulneráveis do mundo e também a exportação de tecnologia, dita de segurança, que ajuda ditaduras a perpetuarem-se e a reprimirem os cidadãos. Temos, por isso, a obrigação de monitorizar meticulosamente qual é o destino final das armas e tecnologias produzidas na Europa e transportadas através da Europa, algo que os nossos Estados-Membros ainda não fazem e que a direita neste Parlamento quer impedir. É a credibilidade e a coerência da União Europeia que estão em jogo, sem elas, políticas de desenvolvimento, democratização, de direitos humanos, de estabilização, etc. são perversamente postas em causa.

O que se pede aos Estados-Membros, na resolução que amanhã aprovaremos, é transparência na divulgação de toda a informação relativa à exportação, transferência de armamento e de tecnologia militar para países terceiros, especialmente em regiões em conflito, sejam elas agenciadas através de canais militares, policiais, públicos ou privados. A Alta Representante tem de assegurar a aplicação da posição comum adotada em 2009, os relatórios têm de ser mais precisos e operacionais, assim como é fundamental publicar regularmente informação atualizada.

 
  
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  Tunne Kelam (PPE). - The EU’s five-year-old common position is something unique in the world, so we can be satisfied, on the one hand, with significant progress but clearly that is not enough.

The EU is the world’s second largest arms exporter, and that trend is being strengthened by the decline in internal EU defence demand due to reductions in defence budgets. This provides incentives and justifications for increasing arms exports to countries outside the EU, and in many cases one cannot be clear as to how and where such arms will be used.

That is why coherence is needed. The first goal is to reduce the existing differences between our common foreign and security policies and the common position. Secondly, although Member States’ arms exports have become more transparent, available data is still incomplete and can vary. We need to find out how the common position is applied in practical terms in the Member States’ systems. The capacity to assess the control of arms exports also needs to be enhanced. Ultimately, however, responsibility lies with the Member States who decide whether to issue arms export licences or not.

 
  
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  Eduard Kukan (PPE). - Madam President, I would like to emphasise the significance of the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty and say that I believe that this Treaty should contribute to more transparency and accountability for European arms exports, especially since the EU is one of the world’s largest exporter of arms. We have a responsibility to ensure that these arms do not contribute to further regional instability or intensify internal conflicts.

I understand that sometimes it has proven difficult for Member States to adhere to the Council’s common position because of its various interpretations. This concerns particularly Criterion 4 which clearly specifies that Member States should deny an export licence if there is a risk that the arms will be used for purposes other than the national defence of the recipient or if there is a risk that the arms will have an adverse effect on regional stability.

Moreover, we should also have increased transparency in Member States’ arms exports and ask for public reports. We should be more considered in our approach to an EU arms control policy that would reinforce other dimensions of the EU external action, such as the promotion of human rights and regional stability.

In order to increase the legitimacy of European arms exports, it will be instrumental for the Member States to implement strictly the Council common position as well as ratifying the Arms Trade Treaty. Words on a piece of paper mean little unless implemented.

 
  
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  Richard Howitt (S&D). - Madam President, as events unfold around us in Cairo as this debate takes place, it makes the point that the export of arms must not simply account for the end user today but who it might be tomorrow.

This is the first opportunity to welcome the International Arms Trade Treaty and to take pride in the European role in its achievement, as well as the role of NGOs, including Amnesty International, Oxfam, Control Arms and Saferworld. I am sure Bulgaria will sign soon to make it every EU state. Spain is the only country to commit to applying the human rights criteria from the date of signature and we should call on all EU countries to follow their example. Only North Korea, Syria and Iran were against this treaty which shows, I think, that Europe is on the right side of the argument.

I take equal pride in the role of the former UK Government of my own party in championing the EU export code of conduct. However, I think the President-in-Office opening the debate should reflect on his words in relation to the review of the common position. For him to say civil society has been fully informed about the review through only private six-monthly meetings with selected NGOs is, I think, far- fetched and I call for full external consultation as the review unfolds.

Secondly, I welcome guidance on Criteria 7 and 8. How can the Presidency justify no guidance on the human rights criteria despite the specific commitments in the human rights action plan of Baroness Ashton to emphasise this in the review? For the Presidency to say tonight that there are ‘solid transparency provisions’ is disappointing. I urge him to pursue the development of an online searchable database which has been proposed but I believe much more can be done to enhance oversight.

The British Labour Party has adopted plans to match Sweden and indeed the United States for independent prior scrutiny of arms exports, while all countries should match The Netherlands in publishing detailed information on licence denials.

Finally, the President-in-Office and Members will be aware that the Czech Government under the code of conduct sold 50 000 pistols to Egyptian police within the last months. I hope those pistols will not be used in a way today or in the forthcoming days that will cause them or us to regret it.

 
  
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  Cristian Dan Preda (PPE). - Industria de armament are un caracter strategic la nivelul Uniunii Europene, iar pentru multe state membre reprezintă şi o sursă de venituri consistente. Uniunea, în ansamblul ei, este, de fapt, cel de-al doilea mare exportator de arme la nivel global, după Statele Unite. Caracterul strategic nu este o scuză pentru lipsa de transparență. Statele membre trebuie să țină seama de instrumentele comune de raportare a numărului de licențe de export emise în domeniu, ca şi de destinația finală a produselor exportate. Principala problemă atunci când ne referim la exportul de arme o reprezintă tocmai destinația finală a acestora. Chiar dacă licențele de export sunt emise pentru anumite state, aşa cum se ştie, ulterior, armele pot fi comercializate în alte zone, alimentând, astfel, conflicte regionale.

Trebuie recunoscut riscul ca armamentul exportat în mod legal din ţări europene să ajungă pe mâna unor regimuri autoritare, pe mâna unor regimuri care reprimă violent protestele. La fel, trebuie recunoscut riscul corupției, inerent și el, din păcate, comerțului de arme.

În aceste condiţii, doresc să salut încheierea Tratatului privind comerțul cu arme, care va duce cu siguranță la un control sporit și care va ameliora transparența în acest domeniu foarte delicat. Mă bucur, de altfel, că 74 de state au semnat deja tratatul, dintre acestea 26 sunt state membre ale Uniunii; sper, de altfel, ca şi celelalte două state să urmeze cât mai rapid exemplul statelor membre. Tratatul privind comerțul cu arme demonstrează că există o reflecție substanțială asupra problemelor enumerate de noi aici şi că sunt făcute eforturi importante pentru a le rezolva.

 
  
 

Interventions à la demande

 
  
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  Γεώργιος Τούσσας (GUE/NGL). - (Οι πρώτες λέξεις της ομιλίας δεν ακούγονται) …. Ένωσης για τις εξαγωγές όπλων σε τρίτες χώρες είναι άμεσα συνδεδεμένη με την ιμπεριαλιστική στρατηγική, τις επεμβάσεις και τους πολέμους της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης και των κυβερνήσεων των κρατών μελών της σε διεθνή κλίμακα για τη διασφάλιση της κερδοφορίας και της εξουσίας των μονοπωλίων. Χαρακτηριστικό παράδειγμα αποτελεί η επέμβαση της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης και των συμμάχων της στη Συρία.

Σύμφωνα με χθεσινό δημοσίευμα της βρετανικής εφημερίδας Telegraph, φορτία 3,5 χιλιάδων τόνων όπλων έχουν μεταφερθεί διά μέσου λιμανιών και αεροδρομίων της Κροατίας στους Σύρους αντικαθεστωτικούς. Έτσι, την ώρα που ήταν σε εξέλιξη, την 1η Ιούλη 2013, οι φιέστες για την ένταξη της Κροατίας στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση, οι υποδομές και το έδαφος αυτής της χώρας αξιοποιήθηκαν για τους εξοπλισμούς των Σύρων αντικαθεστωτικών. Ρωτάμε το Συμβούλιο και την Επιτροπή: μετά την απαράδεκτη αυτή απόφαση για την κατάργηση του εμπάργκο όπλων στους αντικαθεστωτικούς στις 27 του Μάη, ποια κράτη μέλη εφοδιάζουν με όπλα τους αντικαθεστωτικούς στη Συρία;

 
  
 

Fin des interventions à la demande

 
  
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  Vytautas Leškevičius, President-in-Office of the Council, on behalf of the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. − Madam President, first let me thank all those who made comments and suggestions. All this will feed into the deliberations by our colleagues in the working party, helping them to move the review process on the common position further.

In response to Mr Howitt – and thanks for raising the point – I would only say that the focus in Criteria 7 and 8 in the common position results from far-reaching national assessment by your Member States. And the guidance on Criterion 2, about human rights, is already very substantial.

Let me say simply that, as many of you agreed, the common position has greatly contributed to the improvement of arms export controls in the EU Member States by making trade embargos more responsible, transparent and accountable. Today’s debate is yet more evidence of this. At the same time, any assessment of its implementation by the EU Member States has to take into account what the common position prescribes and what it does not prescribe. What the common position establishes is a unique framework at European level, consisting inter alia of substantial and sensitive information-sharing among EU Member States. However, it does not create a single EU licensing authority, and the actual and final decisions on arms control remain a matter of national discretion for each and every Member State.

Convergence and harmonisation on arms exports result from information exchange and peer pressure among EU Member States. Ultimately, and where relevant, Member States can be held accountable for their decisions thanks to the robust transparency mechanism that the common position contains. Certainly there is still room for improvement and that is why a review process is ongoing.

We should, however, be proud of what we have achieved and of the example we have set for other countries outside the Union. We have certainly not shied away from the global scene. The EU has been one of the main promoters of the principle of responsibility and transparency in the global arms trade through its key and very progressive role in the negotiation of the Arms Trade Treaty at the UN. The ATT agreed last April in New York is a strong and credible international instrument that will make a difference to the security of people affected by armed conflict and armed violence in various corners of the world.

The treaty also has the potential to create a level playing-field where all arms exporters – and not only new Member States – play by the same strict and transparent rules, and this will ultimately have an impact in terms of improved and fair competition in this very sensitive market.

 
  
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  Le Président. - J'ai reçu, conformément à l'article 110, paragraphe 2, du règlement six propositions de résolution(1).

Le débat est clos.

Le vote aura lieu jeudi, le 4 juillet, à 12 heures.

Déclarations écrites (article 149)

 
  
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  Indrek Tarand (Verts/ALE), in writing. Western European countries, notably France are selling more and more arms to Russia. By doing so, they are circumventing NATO and ignoring the concerns of NATO partners and EU Member States.

France’s wishful thinking is more than depressing: even Japan has already expressed its concern over the impact Russian Mistrals will have in the region. This situation is appalling and cannot continue. The EU must not export arms to a country that violates freedom of speech, human rights and invades its neighbours. Ceterum censeo, France will sincerely regret its sale of Mistral ships to Russia.

 
  

(1)Voir procès-verbal.

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