The EU reviews the main instrument on arms exports

Deputy Prime minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense Didier Reynders welcomes the consensus reached by the EU on the modernization of the Common Position on arms export on 16 September.

The Common Position is the EU’s main political instrument on arms export, containing criteria that have to be observed by all EU Member States before granting arms export licences. Those criteria assess, among other things, the respect of human rights in the country of destination, as well as the risk of exported weapons to endanger peace, security and stability in that country or region.

In Belgium, those criteria constitute the foundation of our arms export regulation which, since 2003, is mainly a regional competence.

On the proposal of Belgium, the new version of the Common Position reinforces the rules on reporting, improving both the transparency and the mutual exchange of information between member states. Furthermore, corruption and gender-based violence get an increased attention. Belgium also introduced stricter evaluation criteria on human rights and arms misappropriation by unauthorized users via bona fide buyers. However, no consensus was reached within the EU on this topic.

The revision of the Common Position was prepared by the Council of the EU’s Working Party on Conventional Arms Exports (COARM), in which Belgium is represented by the regions and the federal government.

Our country played a pioneering role in the reviewing process and will remain active and constructive in the future in order to further strengthen the European regulatory framework on conventional arms export.