The EU Non-Proliferation Consortium held its second international conference in Brussels on 30 September and 1st October 2013. This event closed the Consortium’s first triennial programme of work. This Newsletter edition covers the event in detail and provides links to all the relevant documents pertaining to the conference (see page 3).

The two days of debate, which were placed under the auspices of “constructive pessimism”, a term that was frequently cited by both speakers and participants, were marked by a desire to favour positive approaches in a recent international context that is complex to say the least. Events in the Middle East in recent months in particular, namely forced Syrian disarmament and the changing of the guard in Teheran, were commented upon with a mixture of satisfaction and prudence.

The broad range of the subjects addressed bore witness to the ambitiousness of the meeting, which was a success in terms of both participation and the quality of the discussion. Next December the EU will mark the tenth anniversary of the adoption of its Strategy against the Proliferation of WMD. In this perspective, the ongoing constitution of a European identity in the fields of security and non-proliferation is worthy of note. This process involves the majority of European member States, institutions, and civil society, and the network of think tanks established by the EU Non-Proliferation Consortium three years ago is now a permanent fixture in this landscape.

Benjamin Hautecouverture
EU Non-Proliferation Consortium / Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS)

October/November 2013, Issue No. 12

The adoption of the ATT marked a historic step

Given the significant increase in the volume of the global arms trade in recent years, it is essential to develop regulation and control instruments to prevent these arms from falling into the wrong hands.
Luc Mampaey, Phd in Economics, joined the GRIP in 1993. He successively served as a researcher, project manager, and deputy director before being appointed director of the GRIP in May 2012. His research interests and publications focus on the development of the defence industry in the United States and the European Union and, more generally, on issues related to defence and peace economics. Throughout his professional career he was a technical NCO in the Belgian armed forces (1975-1983) and a production engineer in a private company in the aviation sector (1983-1993).
What characterizes the GRIP in the European landscape of strategic research? The GRIP was founded in 1979, at the heart of the Cold War, in the particular context of great civilian mobilizations opposed to the arms race and, more precisely, the installation of US Cruise and Pershing missiles on the soil of several European countries. Stuck between pacifist movements’ radical positions and rather rigid stances among chancelleries, this “Euromissiles crisis” revealed the limitations of the reflexion on strategic issues in Europe. Acting as the missing link between those two separated spheres, the GRIP was at that time one of the first independent francophone research centre treating questions of disarmament and conflicts prevention. Within its 35 years of existence, the GRIP has known important transformations but preserves its hybrid profile. The GRIP have strived to conciliate on the one hand, a permanent educational vocation aiming to enhance understanding on complex international relations issues for an audience as wide as possible, and on the other hand, to develop the expertise of an independent and objective research institute capable of producing high level analyses destined to policy makers. Belgium signed the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) adopted the 2 April 2013. What are the strengths and weaknesses of such a Treaty? What possible impact could it have on its exports of weapons? The adoption of the ATT marked a historic step in global arms control policies since it is the first multilateral instrument regulating the international trade in conventional arms including small arms and light weapons and their ammunition. One of its strongest elements is the requirement for states to refuse a transfer in certain circumstances. It also creates binding obligations for governments to assess an export in light of certain criteria, notably, risks that the weapons will be used to violate rules of international human rights and humanitarian law, or to commit acts of terrorism or to fuel transnational organized crime. Since the treaty’s text is a compromise between 193 states, it contains some important weaknesses notably in the list and the definitions of arms covered and the absence of a specific provision for public reporting on arms transfers. Those elements could limit the effectiveness of the instrument. The ATT will probably not require EU member states to introduce major changes in their export control regimes as similar standards are already included in the EU Law. It is therefore important for the EU to focus on outreach and promotion activities in order to guarantee a quick entry into force and the implementation of the ATT. In 2009 was launched the directive 2009/43/EC simplifying terms and conditions of transfers of defence-related products within the European Community. What have been the results of this evolution? The transposition of the Directive 2009/43/EC into national law has been a difficult process for some member states, which have not been able to respect the deadlines laid down in the Directive. It is too early to analyse the implementation of the Directive and the efficiency of the new transfer licensing system. It is also too early to evaluate whether it has eased the administrative burden on the European defence industries and national authorities, and whether it improved the security of the supply chain. For instance, the certification process, which is a central guarantee on the reliability of the recipient in the frame of general licences, seems to be underused. Only 20 enterprises from 8 member states have been certified according to CERTIDER – the European Commission’s website listing the certified defence-related enterprises. Moreover, experts are wondering whether the margin left to member states in determining the content of the licenses may constitute an obstacle in achieving the objectives of the Directive.

Interview conducted by Boris le Polain
Research Assistant
Fondation pour la recherche stratégique (FRS), Paris