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On 15 October 2021, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs announced that the Dutch government has revised its licensing policy for exports of military-related items to Turkey. This policy covers both military items within the meaning of the EU Common Military List and dual-use items in case of a military end-use. The changes were announced in a letter to Dutch Parliament (available here, in Dutch).

The revised policy relaxes the very strict policy that has been applicable as of October 2019. Under that policy, which was adopted in response to Turkish military operations in North East Syria, all current and new licence applications for exports of military-related items destined for Turkey were suspended until further notice, subject to limited exceptions.

Under the revised policy, such licence applications are processed again. The Minister has however announced that the authorities will apply a “very strict” presumption of denial. This means that a licence will only be granted where it is “indisputable” that the items will not be used in North East Syria.

Any applications will furthermore be assessed against the criteria listed in the EU Common Position 2008/944/CFSP, which defines an EU framework of common rules governing exports of military items. The letter mentions the current arms embargo against Libya, regional stability and potential use in South East Turkey as particular relevant circumstances in this respect.

Applications that are necessary for the Netherlands to comply with its international obligations towards the EU, NATO and other intergovernmental organisations are exempt from the above presumption. These will however be assessed against the EU Common Position.

Licence applications for exports of military-related items to Turkey are hence being processed again, but exporters will need to show solid proof of the proposed legitimate end-use of the items in practice.


Derk Christiaans is an associate in the Competition & Trade department of Baker McKenzie's Amsterdam office and advises (multi)national companies on EU, competition and trade matters in various industries, including healthcare and life sciences, TMT, and consumer goods and retail.


Christiaan van der Meer joined Baker McKenzie’s Amsterdam office in 2005, where he is now a senior associate practicing EU and Dutch competition law. He has worked in the European & Competition Law Practice of the Firm’s Brussels office between 2009 and 2011.

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