export-controls 21 September 2017

MEPs call for crackdown on Member States which violate EU arms control policy

Members of the European Parliament (‘MEPS’) have voted to tighten EU arms export control, accusing Member States of ‘violating’ the EU’s common arms export control system (13 September). They also called for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to impose an EU arms embargo on Saudi Arabia, stating that arms exports to the Gulf state breach the EU’s common position. The UK and France are among the largest exporters of arms to Saudi Arabia, which has been locked in conflict in Yemen since 2015, causing mass civilian casualties.

‘We need to shore up arms export controls,’ Bodil Valero, the European Parliament’s rapporteur, said: ‘The EU should not shut its eyes when European weapons are being used for the purpose that does not comply with our own rules.’

Parliamentary debate highlighted the lack of uniform EU arms export control, with Member States taking conflicting decisions on arms exports despite exporting similar weapons to the same destinations and end-users. In the resolution, which was passed 386 votes to 107, with 198 abstentions, MEPs advocated:

  • To set up an arms control supervisory body with leeway to sanction Member States which deviate from the EU’s stance on arms exports;
  • To widen the list of arms export criteria to oblige Member States to assess the risk of corruption when conducting an arms transfer;
  • To increase transparency on arms export reporting, turning the EU’s annual report on arms export into a searchable database by the end of 2018;
  • To create effective post-shipment controls to ensure arms are not re-exported to unauthorised end-users;
  • To include armed drones in arms control regimes.


For further information see:

For the EU Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December 2008 see: