Official EU report on arms exports too late and incomplete, NGOs say

The publication of the “Thirteenth Annual Report on Exports Control of Military Technology and Equipment”, covering 2010, raises many questions about the reliabilityof the data provided and on EU commitment to make arms export control effective, say NGOs working on arms trade.

This important report (470 pages of tables and data) was published on the last working day of the year (Friday, 30 December 2011). The data was neither highlighted on the website of the Council of the European Union (which is responsible for its publication) nor on that of the European Parliament. This certainly suggests that the Report is regarded as a mere bureaucratic necessity, rather than an important document worthy of significant public debate by Member States’ governments or EU Institutions.

Moreover, eight countries (nearly one third of Member States, including two of the world's largest arms exporters, Germany and the United Kingdom) have not provided full data on deliveries, making an accurate analysis of the actual arms exports of EU countries virtually impossible.

The total value of arms export licences in 2010 decreased by 21% compared to 2009 when they reached a record 40.3 billion Euros. Nevertheless, in 2010 they amounted to 31.7 billion Euros, which is close to that of 2008 (33.5 billion Euros) and is still one of the highest figures since the implementation a common EU arms export policy in 1998.

While the value of arms exports licenced to western countries (principally the European Union and USA) fell, it is worrying is that arms exports to countries of emerging and developing economies ("Global South") soared to 15.5 billion Euros - almost half of the total. Although the value of arms exports to repressive regimes in the Middle East and North Africa fell compared to the record levels of 2009, they were still very high at 8.3 billion Euros.

According to article 15 of the EU Common Position on the Export of Military Technology and Equipment, 2012 must see a review of EU arms export policy. Such a review can only be meaningful if it is based on coherent and comprehensive information and on an informed debate.

As European NGOs working on arms export control, peace and human rights, anti-arms trade organisations appeal to the Members of European Parliament to demand a debate on the Thirteenth Annual Report on Exports Control of Military Technology and Equipment” including a thorough analysis of its shortcomings.

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