AFET opinion dual-use regulation

Marietje

In the run-up to the update of the EU regulation that controls the export of dual-use items, the Foreign Affairs committee of the European Parliament provides an opinion to the International Trade Committee. Marietje Schaake is the rapporteur for this opinion. The explanatory statement can be found below.

The opinion can be found here.

It should be read in conjunction with the Commission's proposal for a regulation which is available here.

Explanatory Statement

New technologies have profound impact on foreign policy. From cybersecurity to human rights, from digital trade to development, we need to ensure the EU fosters opportunities and mitigates threats. The review of the Dual-Use Regulation aims to further strengthen the EU's role as a leading and responsible global actor by preventing the proliferation of technologies that hurt our strategic interest or the human rights of people worldwide.

This update is essential in a time of rapid technological changes and the ongoing shift in the global geopolitical balance. The rapporteur strongly supports the Commission’s human security approach and has sought to clarify this in a number of areas, which further contributes to the streamlining of human rights in the EU’s foreign policy and trade policy and adds coherence between the EU’s foreign and security policies and its economic and commercial interests.

Given the rapid changes in technology, it is very timely that the EU added certain cyber-surveillance technologies to the control list as dual use items which can be used to commit human rights violations or to undermine EU strategic interests. At the same time, not every technology requires controls, and the exports of technologies that actually enhance human rights protection, such as encryption, should be facilitated. We also need to be sure that we do not create unnecessary burdens for exporters or hurdles for legitimate internet security research.

The targeted human security end-use control for non-listed items is a good step to make sure the EU can stop illegitimate transfers, but it should provide more legal clarity. Dual-use items (especially cyber-surveillance technology) are often used both to directly commit human rights violations, but they can also facilitate other serious human rights violations. Such as when illicitly obtained information of human rights defenders or journalists is used to subsequently detain and/or torture them.

We need a future proof framework that can take into consideration changing realities. When Member States decide to enact the targeted end-use control, an amendment of the control lists should be considered. When it comes to the EU autonomous list covering cyber-surveillance technologies, the urgency procedure should be available to allow for quick responses to changes on the ground in third countries or in terms of new technological developments requiring scrutiny.

With foreign transactions becoming ever more complex, it is important to enhance information sharing and to strengthen transparency. Member States should make available all licensing information, to enhance accountability and oversight. This would build on existing best practices while some already do this voluntarily. To create a level playing field, penalties on breaches of the regulation should also be uniform across the Union.

The European Parliament has been pushing for an update of the dual-use regulation for years, it is essential that the process now moves on as swiftly as possible.