European Network Against Arms Trade speaks out against free movement of military goods within the EU

European Network Against Arms Trade speaks out against free movement of military goods within the EU

Press release - European Network Against Arms Trade

Amsterdam, 27 June 2006

The European Network Against Arms Trade (ENAAT), and seven national organisations* involved in research on and campaigning against arms trade, speak out against a proposal by the European Commission for the free movement of defence-related products between EU Member States. They have written the European Commission a letter voicing their concerns. The Directorate General Enterprises and Industry van de Europese Commissie recently published a Consultation Paper with the proposal to abolish, the principle of prior authorisation with regard to the circulation of all defence-related products within the European Union. For the eight organisations the main points of concern are the risk of re-exporting and the negative effects on transparency that the proposal in the Consultation Paper will cause.
In particular the risk of re-exporting worries the organisations. It can be expected that companies will export their products to countries outside the EU through the EU Member State with the least strict export policies. With that the arms export policies of the EU will be reduced to the lowest common denominator and the sovereignty of individual countries to use stricter export policies will be severely undermined.

It is likely that transparency from the viewpoint of parliamentary and civil society controls will severely decrease with the Commission proposal. Especially when components go from one country to another it is hardly possible for the country of origin to keep track of what happens with the end-use of weapon systems that incorporate these components.
Moreover it will become increasingly unclear for parliaments and NGOs whom they can hold responsible for questionable exports: their own government or the government of the country that grants permission for the export to a country outside the EU, which they can't even directly address.

In the proposal defence related-products are regarded by the European Commission to be just another product, for which the principle of free movement of goods and services should be applied. ENAAT and the seven other organisations wrote to the Commission:
"This idea doesn't do justice to the incomparable characteristics of defence equipment, in that the consequences of its use are deadly and destructive. Accordingly, unwanted exports should be prevented. The best guarantee for this is a transparent, verifiable and strict export policy of each EU Member State, so that each state can be held responsible for the export of its own defence-related products."

* The other organisations are: Forum voor Vredesactie (Belgium), Peace Union of Finland, BUKO � Kampagne 'Stoppt den Rüstungsexport (Germany), Campagne Tegen Wapenhandel (Netherlands), Centre d'Estudis per la Pau J.M. Delas � Justicia i Pau Barcelona (Spain), Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society en Campaign Against Arms Trade (United Kingdom)

More information: Mark Akkerman (+31-206164684), or Frank Slijper (+31-628504778)
The letter can be found on the Internet:
Consultation Paper_ENAAT reaction