EU arms export figures published, but incomplete

As late as December.30, on the very last working day of 2011, the European Union finally published its arms export figures of 2010 in the “Thirteenth Annual Report on Exports Control of Military Technology and Equipment”  Since 1998 EU countries have established a common arms export policy, based on a system of licensing and export criteria which demand screening of the country of destination on human rights, existing conflict and tension, and behaviour towards the international community. Although this EU policy gives clear guidelines for an ethical arms export policy it is far from perfect. It leaves is however useful for NGO’s to criticise governments when discussing military deals with Israel, as in most cases such exports are inconsistent with a strict implementation of the European criteria.

Part of the Common Position on the Export of Military Technology and Equipment, as it is fully named, is the obligation to publish an Annual Report on arm exports, based on contributions from Member States, and also for Member States to publish national reports.

According to the most recently published report, the major EU arms exporter to Israel in 2010 has been France, exporting weapons for over 35 million euro. This picture however is somewhat distorted by the fact that many important arms exporters do not hand in their export figures to the EU. A tiny footnote on page 8 warns that Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Greece, Ireland and the United Kingdom “could not supply these data”. It is a shame that, thirteen years after the entry into force of the common EU arms export policy, it is publishing a document that is giving a very incomplete picture and cannot be used  to analyze accurately the actual arms exports of EU countries.

There is another figure in the document however that does shed light on EU arms exports to Israel. Although not all countries publish actual deliveries they all publish figures on granted licenses. Based on that, one can see that France is the major European arms exporting country to Israel, with licences granted for over 32 million euro. France is followed closely by Germany, with licences for arms to Israel worth 31 million, and on the third position is Rumania, with export licences to Israel worth 15 million euro and actual deliveries 11 million.

Against 808 granted arms export licences for Israel there are a meagre 20 refusals of arms export licences. Refusal grounds were the lack of respect for international obligations and commitments by Israel (criterion 2, 10 refusals based on this), the internal situation in Israel and the existence of tensions or armed conflicts (criterion 3, 11 refusals based on this), the need to preservation regional peace, security and stability (criterion 4, 9 refusals) and the risk that the military technology will be re-exported under undesirable conditions (criterion 7, 3 refusals). Considering these reasons for denial it would be interesting to know how, when applying the EU criteria on arms export properly, the other 808 military exports did manage to receive export licenses.

Completely missing in the report is any indication of the amount of military parts exported from Europe to other countries, notably the US, where these parts are build into big systems to be exported to Israel. Because the EU is not asking the US for a Declaration of Final Destination, it can act as if this indirect exports to Israel do not exist.

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