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Thursday, 25 March 2021 - Brussels Revised edition

Control of exports, brokering, technical assistance, transit and transfer of dual-use (debate)
MPphoto
 

  Markéta Gregorová, rapporteur. – Mr President, today’s debate comes after a process that started with an ambitious Commission recast proposal in 2016, which aims to rein in the immoral and damaging export of European cyber-surveillance to dictatorships around the world. My predecessor, Professor Klaus Buchner, took up this political battle against concentrated industry power, lack of willingness to cooperate among national states, and a baseline of secrecy that one usually only finds in spy thrillers. I thank him, my fellow shadow rapporteurs, our Committee Chair Bernd Lange, and our hard-working staff wholeheartedly for engaging in this years-long political battle. The result has been a recast that does not reinvent dual-use export controls, but one that provides the necessary tools to protect human rights and our European security, and one that eases our legitimate exports and cuts red tape. It is not our final destination. It is however an important stepping stone to progress even further.

If we adopt this reform in today’s vote, the European Parliament will have put human rights and human security at the forefront of our exports policy for some of the most dangerous dual-use technology. The new rules for cyber-surveillance exports, paired with companies’ new due diligence requirements and meaningful transparency, will together mean that powerful European cyber-surveillance technology does not end up in the hands of dictators and authoritarians.

In this regard, I also cannot omit the current and future role of civil society. Watchdogs and non-governmental organisations and journalists always had a crucial role in the identification of problematic companies and areas. We now free their hands with the new transparency provisions to access necessary information. We have also carefully listened to our businesses and narrowed down the scope of new controlled items to a small percentile of all exports. Cyber-surveillance is not the big job-creator in the EU and the costs of it landing in the wrong hands far outweigh those economic gains. Although bureaucratic changes will have to occur, ultimately, the new harmonised reporting, implementation and enforcement measures will improve competitiveness inside the single market.

In addition, the new general export authorisations will allow our businesses to compete in a tough global environment. The recast would also create new listing mechanisms that allow us to go beyond Wassenaar, with its limits in scope and speed of adoption that is hopelessly behind the current technological frontier. Ultimately, we must find a solution with our trading partners and expand controls to all democracies. The European Union alone cannot stop the proliferation of cyber-surveillance, weapons of mass destruction, or new dangerous emerging technologies, but with this recast we take a step in the right direction and invite our democratic allies to go together.

I agree with Antony Blinken’s recent statement that when one of us is coerced we should respond as allies and work together. I agree with him. I believe that only when democratic nations that uphold the rule of law, due process and fundamental rights work together on the non-proliferation of new and future weapons technologies of the 21st century can we ensure global peace and rising prosperity. The Chinese Communist Party sanctioned five of our colleagues over defending fundamental rights and speaking out about genocide and horrifying human rights abuses in China. It’s caused us all to come closer together, as Europeans, and to get a clearer understanding of this one-party regime. Like any other dictatorship, the CCP attempts to silence all opposition and it does so at home with cyber-surveillance that it legally bought, or backwards-engineered, from our companies. This is unacceptable and cannot continue.

I call on the Member States and the Council Working Group on Dual-use Exports to use the new articles in the recast and to put the CCP on our list. China has become one of the most industrious suppliers of cyber-surveillance to dictatorships around the world. It is launching constant cyber-attacks against our institutions and companies. The Soviet threat after the Second World War saw the birth of the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls. It is time that we realise the threats to our institutions and democracies by the Chinese Communist Party as yet another such pivotal moment that requires a comparable level of increased multilateral export controls.

Let me conclude by saying that an adoption of the recast today would only mark the beginning of much of the necessary work. With many new tasks, the European Commission must dedicate more resources and workforce. I trust Stéphane Chardon to do his job well, but he cannot be alone. Our businesses rightfully demand that due diligence guidelines for the export of cyber-surveillance are provided on time.

I would just like to ask Commissioner Šefčovič, what are the Commission’s plans in this regard and how can the European Parliament support him in providing the necessary resources for the tasks ahead?

 
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