With great regret I learned that the Council Working Party responsible for the reform of the EU‘s export regime of dual use items was once again unable to reach a Council position in order to start negotiations with European Parliament.
The failure to take a position in Council risks pushing this file beyond the current legislature. An update of export controls to include surveillance technologies is needed urgently. Most recently, the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi has demonstrated how the export of European cyber-surveillance technology continues to be a real threat against journalists, civil society members and opposition politicians. The Saudi government bought tools from Italian firm Hacking Team that could penetrate digital devices.
In the meantime, the United States adopted the Export Control Reform Act of 2018, which requires the U.S. Department of Commerce to identify and control in the Export Control Regulations “emerging and foundational technologies of concern”. Europe risks to become rule-takers instead of rule-makers.
The European Commission adopted its proposal to modernize the EU's export control system in September 2016. The European Parliament then adopted its negotiating position in January 2018, and exceptionally did so almost unanimously. The Parliament took a strong position to make human rights protection of journalists, activists and others who are targeted with European technologies abroad, a key condition before a license is granted. We also ensured that new rules would not have a negative impact on legitimate security research and businesses, and will facilitate the export of tools that include encryption.
One year later, we are still waiting for an agreement in the Council. We cannot afford to wait any longer.
I sincerely hope that your Presidency continues to treat the update of the Dual Use Regulation as a top priority. The European Commission’s draft and our own Parliament position present many opportunities to greatly enhance and future-prove the Dual-Use Regulation.
MEP Marietje Schaake
- Press release on the adoption of the EP position
- Speech in the plenary of the European Parliament on the dual use reform process