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The EU has for many years played a leading role in arms export control, both regionally and internationally. In 1998 the Council adopted the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports which established a notification and consultation mechanism for export licence denials, included a transparency procedure through the publication of the EU annual reports on arms exports and laid down eight criteria for the export of conventional arms. EU Member States apply those eight criteria to their decisions to grant or to deny an arms export licence:
The Code contributed significantly to the harmonisation of national arms export control policies and its principles and criteria have been officially subscribed to by a number of third countries. The Council assessed implementation of the Code on an annual basis (see First , Second , Third , Fourth , Fifth , Sixth , Seventh , Eighth , Ninth and Tenth annual reports / for subsequent reports, see below).
Common Position 2008/944/CFSP, adopted on 8 December 2008 , marked the formal successful conclusion of a review of the Code and set another milestone in improving the EU's export control standards. The Common Position constitutes a significantly updated and upgraded instrument which replaces the Code of Conduct. It includes several new elements, which deepen and widen the scope of application. These elements include the extension of controls to brokering, transit transactions and intangible transfers of technology, as well as the implementation of strengthened procedures in order to further harmonise Member States' export policies. Recognizing the special responsibility of military technology and equipment exporting states, Member States have once again shown their determination to prevent the export of military technology and equipment which might be used for undesirable purposes such as internal repression or international aggression or contribute to regional instability.
Article 8(2) of the EU Common Position provides for the publication of an EU annual report (see Eleventh , Twelfth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth annual reports). In addition to data provided in the EU annual reports, most Member States publish national reports on arms exports on the internet (see table E, page 417 of the 14th EU annual report for relevant links).
In accordance with Operative Provision 5 of the 1998 EU Code of Conduct on arms exports, on 13 June 2000 the Council adopted the Common list of equipment covered by the Code of Conduct together with Declaration 2000/C/191/01 . The most recent version of the Common Military List of the European Union which updates previous versions, was adopted by the Council on 11 March 2013. Article 12 of Common Position 2008/944/CFSP stipulates that the EU Common Military List shall act as a reference point for Member States' national military technology and equipment lists, but shall not directly replace them.
The User's Guide , drawn up and regularly updated by the Working Party on Conventional Arms Exports, serves as guidance to assist Member States in implementing the Common Position (cf. Article 13 of the Common Position). It is intended for use primarily by export licensing officials.
EU outreach activities significantly developed with the adoption in 2008 of Council Joint Action 2008/230/CFSP that funded seminars, bringing together experts in the control of arms exports from EU Member States and interested third parties, especially near neighbours. Beneficiaries included the countries of South Eastern Europe, North African and Mediterranean partners and Eastern European Caucasian partners of the European Neighbourhood Policy, as well as Turkey and Ukraine. The objectives of the seminars included promotion of the criteria and principles of Common Position 2008/944/CFSP, and assistance in drafting and implementing legislation to ensure effective control of arms exports.
In view of the successful implementation of Joint Action 2008/230/CFSP, which Council considered had contributed to laying the groundwork for the establishment of increasingly responsible and effective export control legislation and practices in the countries concerned, on 22 December 2009 the Council adopted Council Decision 2009/1012/CFSP of 22 December 2009 on support for EU activities in order to promote the control of arms exports and the principles and criteria of Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP among third countries. Council Decision 2009/1012/CFSP, provides for additional, more advanced outreach seminars with partner third countries. Based on an assessment of the results achieved by the implementation of Council Decision 2009/1012 and on the evolving needs of the beneficiary countries, the Council supported the continuation of outreach activities in the area of arms export controls with the adoption of Council Decision 2012/711/CFSP of 19 November 2012 that allocates 1,86 million Euros to this purpose.
Since the launch of the initiative to promote the adoption of an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in 2005, the EU has been fully committed to this far-reaching initiative and, within the UN framework, fully supported its elaboration process.
In order to concretely support the ATT process, the EU has devoted since 2009 through Council Decisions 2009/42/CFSP and 2010/336/CFSP substantial resources to the worldwide awareness-raising and promotion of a robust and ambitious ATT.
The purpose of the Decisions was to increase awareness of national and regional actors, United Nations Member States, civil society and industry, of the current international discussions around an ATT, and to foster debate among United Nations Member States. The EU has also constantly promoted the ATT in its political dialogues with relevant third countries.
On 23 June 2003 the Council adopted Common Position 2003/468/CFSP on the Control of arms brokering aimed at regulating arms brokering. The Common Position establishes a set of provisions to be implemented through national legislation, requiring the Member States to take all the necessary measures to control brokering activities on their territory or carried out by brokers of their nationality.
In particular, it requires the Member States to subject specific brokering transactions to licence applications, to establish a system for the exchange of information on brokering activities, and to establish adequate sanctions to ensure that controls are effectively enforced.
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