The EU is conducting a review of its export control policy with a view to creating a more integrated EU export control regime ensuring security and a more level playing field (“Review of Export Control Policy“). This arose out of the European Foreign Affairs Council’s call for the continued pursuit of an effective EU weapons of mass destruction (WMD) counterproliferation policy and for a review and strengthening of EU export controls. On Friday 21 November, the European Foreign Affairs Council (the “Council“) discussed and adopted conclusions on the Review of Export Control Policy. Key points to be noted from the conclusions are:
- The Council is to examine the European Commission’s (“Commission“) initiative to minimize administrative burdens and distortions of competition, to reduce transaction costs associated with different controls and to facilitate legitimate trade. Further, the Commission and EU Member States were called on to revaluate intra-EU transfer controls in order to minimise remaining barriers in the EU Single Market.
- The Council noted the issues surrounding the export of certain information and communication technologies, particularly that these could be used in connection with human rights violations, to undermine international security, particularly as regards technologies used for mass-surveillance, monitoring, tracking, tracing and censorship. EU Member States are to assess whether further export controls are necessary to prevent internal repression or terrorism.
- The Council acknowledged the need to address the challenge posed by Intangible Transfers of Technology.
- The Council looked favourably upon a review of the existing general export authorizations and referred to the possible introduction of new European General Export Authorisations (EU GEA) to facilitate low risk trade for the benefit of all European companies while maintaining the high level of existing controls.
Referring to the fact that controls on non-listed dual-use items are an essential part of EU export controls, EU Member States were asked to consider whether the application of “catch all” controls could be further developed.
The Council called for EU Member States and the Commission to explore options for enhanced information sharing.