How to prevent EU produced weapons from fuelling conflict
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Arms are not like any other export goods. Their export needs to be regulated carefully. Currently, export decisions for arms produced in the EU are made at national level. Member states are expected to follow the so-called “Common Position” which establishes eight criteria for exporting arms outside the EU, and aims to prevent arms exports to crisis regions or exports that contribute to the violation of human rights. However, the criteria are currently interpreted differently by each EU member state. This leads to loopholes in the system or varying, and sometimes even contradictory, national export decisions and practices. An obvious example is arms exports to Saudi Arabia, where several EU member states - including Germany - imposed a ban, whilst others - like France - continued to export arms.
With the recent launch of the European Defence Fund (EDF), the EU will massively subsidise the research and development of military technology between member states, stimulating more expansive arms exports policies. Facilitating collaboration in arms production between member states at European level must go hand in hand with a stronger role for the EU to secure coherence and respect of our common criteria. It is against this background that we would like to explore a new approach: the implementation of pre-decision risk assessments, monitoring and careful examination by the EU to feed into the final decisions on arms exports to be taken at national level.
During this debate, we would like to reflect on the current state of EU arms exports and have a lively discussion about how the current situation, with its many loopholes, could be improved to get one step closer to an EU that actively contributes to democracy, freedom and peace.
Hannah Neumann, Member of the European Parliament, the Greens/ EFA, Germany (10 min)
- James Bevan, Conflict Armament Research (10) (tbc)
- Andrew Feinstein, author of The Shadow World (10)
- Roy Isbister, Saferworld (10)
- Marjolijn van Deelen, European External Action Service (EEAS) (10)
Followed by Q&A (30)
Alviina Alametsä, Member of the European Parliament, the Greens/ EFA, Finland (10 min)
Moderation by Teri Schultz, Freelance journalist