The European Union has been concerned about increasing proliferation of missile programs in several regions of the world which may be symptomatic of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) proliferation.
The EU supports multilateral as well as regional solutions which can contribute to curbing proliferation of missiles and other WMD means of delivery. Therefore, the EU Member States engaged in the preparation of the Code of Conduct against ballistic missile proliferation , which was open for the subscription by all UN Member States at the conference in The Hague in 2002. All EU Member States subscribed to the Code and are implementing it in a good faith.
The objective of the HCoC is to prevent and to curb the proliferation of ballistic missiles systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction and related technologies. The Code, a multilateral instrument of political nature, proposes a set of transparency and confidence building measures. Subscribing States committed politically not to proliferate ballistic missiles and to exercise maximum possible restraint regarding the development, the testing and the deployment of missiles. States are also invited to reduce national holdings of such missiles, in the interest of global and regional peace and security.
The HCoC does not prohibit states from owning ballistic missiles nor from benefiting from the peaceful use of outer space. A core aspect of the Code is to increase transparency among Subscribing States and to promote confidence through annual declarations and pre-launch notifications of missile and space launches.
Subscribing States committed to submit annual declaration which includes their policies regarding ballistic missiles, information about their launch test sites, and provide annual information on the number and generic class of Ballistic Missiles launched during the preceding year. Concerning Space Launch Vehicle programmes, States are invited to provide an outline of their Space Launch Vehicle policies and land (test-) launch sites and provide the number and generic class of Space Launch Vehicles launched during the preceding year, consistent with commercial and economic confidentiality principles. States could consider, on a voluntary basis, inviting international observers to their land (test-) launch sites.
Subscribing States exchange pre-launch notifications on their Ballistic Missiles and Space Launch Vehicle launches and test flights. These notifications should include such information as the generic class of the Ballistic Missile or Space Launch Vehicle, the planned launch notification window, the launch area and the planned direction.
As agreed by the conference in The Hague, Austria serves as the Immediate Central Contact (Executive Secretariat) which coordinates the information exchange among the HCoC Subscribing States. Conferences of Subscribing States are organised every year in Vienna.
The Council of the European Union has decided in December 2008 to adopt a Council Decision (2008/974/CFSP) to undertake activities which could promote the implementation of the Code, contribute to its universal subscription, and offer a platform for conducting discussions on how to further enhance multilateral efforts against missile proliferation.
Another element which aims at curbing the proliferation of missile technology is the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). The MTCR seeks to coordinate national export licensing efforts aimed at preventing their proliferation. (Read more)