As anticipated by this focus (see the following LINK), on 28 September 2016 the European Commission proposed to modernizing and strengthening controls on exports of certain goods that can can be used either for civil purposes or for human rights violations, terrorist attacks or the development of weapons of mass destruction. With the objective of creating a new “human security”, the Commission’s proposal simplifies and harmonizes the existing rules, in order to save money and time for EU national authorities.

The proposal, on the one hand, aims to reach a balance between ensuring high level security and transparency, and, on the other, to keep European companies competitive in the trade of dual-use items. The proposed modifications of the existing rules, however, are important to allow EU authorities to stop exports in cases where they could be misused for human rights violations, for repression or armed conflict.

According to Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Trade: “… Preserving peace and protecting human rights are core objectives of the EU and our trade policy is essential to that aim. That’s why we are proposing a set of modern rules to make sure that exports are not misused to threaten international security or undermine human rights …”.

Hence, the Commission proposes to make export controls more efficient, consistent and effective, simplifying the administration of controls, avoiding divergent levels of controls throughout the EU, and introducing provisions preventing the misuse of dual-use items for terrorism.

The Council and the Commission recognize the importance of continuously enhancing the effectiveness and coherence of the EU’s strategic export controls regime, and consider that modernization of the system is needed in order to keep up with new threats and rapid technological changes.

Since the late 90s, EU export controls have been gradually strengthened. Regulation (EC) 428/2009 implements the EU’s international commitments, and enables the free circulation of dual-use products with some exceptions. In an Annex to the Regulation there is a list which contains the controlled dual-use items and the goods and technologies that can be used as precursors for toxic chemical agents.

As the Regulation needs to be upgraded, the Council and the European Parliament will decide about the Commission’s proposal through an ordinary legislative procedure.