Arms brokering controls : How are they implemented in the EU?

The role of arms brokers is still poorly understood. Though brokers can legally organise and facilitate arms transfers, they can also play a key role in arms trafficking schemes. Whilst brokering activities are often carried out in a legal framework, unscrupulous brokers are able to operate with impunity by taking advantage of the weaknesses and differences between national laws and control regimes.

To strengthen controls in the European Union (EU), in 2003, Member States adopted a Common Position on the control of arms brokering (2003/468/CFSP). This paper assesses the compliance of EU Member States’ policies with the Common Position over the past ten years. All in all, the EU’s track record is satisfactory. Luxemburg is the only country that has yet to adopt a law on the control of military arms brokering. In addition, three states (Belgium, France and Italy) still need to ensure the compliance of their national regulations to all the requirements of the EU legislation.

However, there are significant differences between the twenty-four control regimes which currently comply with the European instrument – differences that have adverse consequences on the quality and the effi ciency of brokering controls. Indeed loopholes and differences can give way to illegal arms brokering activities as brokers operate from countries where controls are poor or non-existent. This report analyses the various provisions that EU Member States have adopted to control arms brokering and calls for greater consistency between national policies to ensure that activities carried out from their territory or by their nationals are efficiently controlled. To support this argument, the report utilises examples of best practices and how various provisions can work.