Strengthening Control and Approval of Arms Exports - Intensify European Coordination
(Source: SPD Parliamentary Group; issued Nov. 25, 2019)
Position paper of the SPD parliamentary group: Summary

The production and export of arms is not a means of economic policy, but a matter of security and foreign policy, which must go hand in hand with greater commitment to international disarmament and defense of human rights. They are not a strategic instrument designed to create economic growth and prosperity in Germany and the EU.

We want:

• to further restrict the export of German military equipment to third countries outside of EU, NATO and peer countries. For states that are neither a member of the EU nor of NATO, ratification of the ATT and its consistent implementation is a mandatory requirement for any form of armaments cooperation. There can be exceptions in justified individual cases;

• to anchor an approval period of a maximum of two years in the arms export directives or in an arms export law, so that the Federal Government can react to changing foreign and security policy conditions in the recipient countries,

• to put forward a mandatory participation of all companies that want to export armaments from Germany to a joint risk-loss fund,

• to close the regulatory gap, which allows German manufacturers to bypass strict export guidelines by outsourcing R & D and production abroad, by amending the Foreign Trade and Payments Regulation;

• to legally fix the reporting obligations of the Federal Government to Parliament. In addition, following the example of Great Britain, all final arms export licenses issued by the Federal Security Council will be published transparently on the Internet;

• to improve the parliamentary monitoring of arms export decisions by informing the Federal Government, in addition to the previous information to Parliament, about the criteria according to which approvals of the Federal Security Council were granted or denied;

• to continue to instrument post-shipment controls, ie if arms exports exported to third countries are verifiably under the control of the recipient, and extend it to all armament exports, including large military equipment, as it has been to be small arms. Parliament should submit a regular post-shipment report to the government.

With the Small Arms Principles of 2015 and the commitment in the Coalition Agreement to generally not export small arms to third countries, we have already made great progress in curbing these exports. We should build on this success and face this extremely restrictive approval practice to third-party countries.

In the EU context, we should urge that the EU definition of small arms be guided by the wider UN definition so that, for example, pistols and sniper rifles can finally be included in this category. As a first step, Germany should include these two weapons in the national small arms guidelines.

A deeper European armaments cooperation offers the advantage that equipment manufactured in the EU can be bought and used by European partners. The higher number of withdrawals by the armies of the EU Member States can reduce the existing export pressure for the defense companies.

However, since companies are fundamentally profit-oriented, it is important to significantly increase the binding nature of existing EU arms export agreements and close loopholes in line with the consolidation process of the European defense industries. There will be intensive discussions about this with our European partners. A common regulation will require concessions from all sides.

The Franco-German agreement on export controls in the armaments sector of October 2019 can serve as an example for other cooperation partners. The starting point for us are our German regulations for the approval of arms exports.


Click here for the full paper (11 PDF pages, in German), on the SPD website.

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