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International Relations, PUBLICATIONS

EU arms exports: Member States’ compliance with the common rules

The European Union (EU) is the only regional organisation to have set up a legally binding arrangement on conventional arms exports.


© Alexander Tarasov / Fotolia

The common position agreed by EU Member States in 2008 sets out common rules and minimum standards to be followed by national authorities when granting export licences for military equipment and technology. It defines obligations related to the respect of eight common criteria in assessing export licence applications, to public transparency on arms exports, and to information sharing between Member States.

Other EU legal instruments govern exports of dual-use items, of small and light weapons, as well as intra-EU arms transfers.

Nevertheless, as EU Member States remain responsible for its implementation, concerns have been raised about differing national interpretations and applications of the common position, in particular in terms of compliance with the eight common criteria. In some cases, economic interests seem to have prevailed over humanitarian considerations, in transferring arms to countries infringing human rights and international humanitarian law, or which pose a risk of diversion of the exported military equipment.

Read the complete briefing here.

Major EU arms exporters in 2011

Destinations of EU arms exports in 2011

Main destinations of EU arms exports

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