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Parliamentary questions
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1 December 2020
Answer given by High Representative/Vice-President Borrell
on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-004779/2020

The EU is actively involved in discussions of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on emerging technologies in the area of lethal autonomous weapons (LAWS) of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW)(1).

The EU position is that CCW is the relevant international forum combining diplomatic, legal and military expertise, involving, in addition to States, international organisations and the civil society . The GGE agreed on 11 Guiding Principles on LAWS in 2019, and is now working on the operationalisation of these principles with a view to presenting a framework paper by 2021.

For the EU, all weapons systems must be developed and used in respect of international law, including International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. G iven the intrinsic dual-use nature of emerging technologies, hampering progress in research and development, especially innovation in high-technology industries, should be avoided.

Concerning research and development in technologies related to LAWS in Europe, the draft Regulation on the European Defence Fund (EDF) establishes that collaborative defence research and development projects funded under the EDF must comply with relevant international and national law, as well as ethical principles reflected therein.

Actions for the development of lethal autonomous weapons which do not envisage meaningful human control over the selection and engagement decisions when carrying out strikes against humans shall not be eligible for financial support, without prejudice to the possibility for the EDF to provide funding for actions for the development of early warning systems and countermeasures for defensive purposes.

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