The EU and Arms Exports: Options and Limitations of the Common Position Review

In 2012, EU Member States started reviewing the EU Common Position defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment. While the process is still ongoing, this note takes stock of what Member States have agreed to review and suggests avenues for further improving the Common Position and its implementation. To do so, it draws upon an analysis of Member States’ practices which highlights not only inconsistent interpretations of the Common position’s criteria but also contradictions between some export licensing decisions and the spirit and letter of the European instrument. Therefore, and in spite of EU Member States having decided to carry out a limited review, this note calls for a thorough review and a progressive revision of the Common Position and its User’s Guide. When lives are at stake, proactive processes offer the options that reactive approaches deny.

Crédit photo: Stand de la FN Herstal au salon de l'armement terrestre Eurosatory (Benjamin Vokar/GRIP - Juin 2014)