European Union: record € 40 billion of arms exports in 2009

Written by Giorgio Beretta on . Posted in Indústria i comerç d'armes

 (Article published in Unimondo)

In 2009 have reached a record of € 40.3 billion the licenses for export of armaments and war materials from the EU countries (plus 20%).

Arms sold mainly to countries of the South of the world (53%) and especially to the Middle East (€ 9.6 billion). France remains the major exporter (€12.7 billion) followed by Italy (€ 6.7 billion), Germany (€5 billion) and the United Kingdom (€3.5 billion). It emerges from an analysis made by the network ENAAT (European Network Against Arms Trade) of the “XII Report on control of exports of military technology and equipment” published on the 13th of January. “A report full of relevant, but incomplete, data but which lacks in deeper analysis and in political evaluation” – comments ENAAT. “After two weeks of its publication online and on the Official Journal of the European Union there is still no comment by Governments and MPs”

In 2009 have reached a record of € 40.3 billion the licenses for export of armaments and war materials from the EU countries: this represent an increase of 20,1% on the previous year when export licences where at € 33.3 billion. Arms sold mainly to countries of the South of the world (53%) and especially to the Middle East (€ 9.6 billion). It emerges from an analysis made by the network ENAAT (European Network Against Arms Trade) on the “XII Report on control of exports of military technology and equipment” published the 13th of January on the Official Journal of the European Union.
“A report released in delay, full of numbers, but with numerous lack of data because some of the largest European exporters of armaments did not provide information on their actual deliveries;  but, above all, the report is lacking in analysis and evaluations” – points out the press release of ENAAT (or if you want you can put the name of a “coordinator” or “spokesperson”  of ENAAT adding the name. Or in the following red passages we can put different spokesperson from different countries such as – if they agree of course – Ann Feltham of Caat (UK), Francesco Vignarca of Italian Disarmament Network, Jordi Calvo Rufanges of Centre d'Estudis per a la Pau (Spain), Frank Slijper - Campagne tegen Wapenhandel ans so on)

The major exporters

As for licences of the export of military materials (which also include "intergovernmental programs" usually counted separately in the national reports), in 2009 France confirmed its position as the largest exporter (€ 12.7 billion compared with € 10.6 billion in 2008), followed by Italy (€ 6.7 billion; €5.6 billion in 2008) that overcomes Germany (€5 billion in 2009; €5.8 billion in 2008), the United Kingdom (€ 3.5 billion; € 2.5 billion in 2008) and Spain (€ 3.2 billion; € 2.5 billion in 2008): these five countries cover more than three quarters of the EU military exports. Significant growth also in licences of the export of military by Austria (more than € 2.2 billion; they were € 946 million in 2008), Poland (€ 1.4 billion; € 368 million in 2008) but also of the Netherlands (€ 1.3 billion) and Sweden (€ 1.1 billion), while those of Belgium marked a decline (€ 1.1 billion from € 1.3 in 2008). Less relevant, but a marked increase, in the exports of the Czech Republic (390 million), Denmark (€ 252 million), Greece (€ 227 million), Romania (€ 165 million) and even of Malta that reached € 134 million (there were only € 3.2 million in 2008).

Regarding the actual deliveries of armaments it is impossible to get precise and full data from the report. A tiny note at beginning of the almost 400 pages of tables of data informs that Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Greece, Ireland and the UK “could not supply these data” and therefore the total deliveries “do not reflect the actual exports of arms of the European Union”.
“A serious and relevant lack of information – stresses someone of ENAAT – especially considering that the guidelines for the compilation of the report have been defined ten years ago and that were confirmed two years ago with the implementation of the new Common Position (2008/944/CFSP in.pdf). The lack information on actual deliveries by two of the major international and European exporters of military equipment (Germany and the UK) can not be certainly underplayed on the basis of mere “technical problems”: it is clearly a political decision about which the governments should account for” (should be held accountable?).

“Equally serious – adds someone of ENAAT –  is the lack of reporting by France, Italy and Sweden, according to 22 categories of the military systems defined by the guidelines: France and Italy did not provide data on deliveries divided for each category but only the total exports, while Sweden did not even provide these data for the licences. These countries are the major European exporters of arms and, moreover, have established important and common agreements for the production and interchange of military materials. As ENAAT we ask that the Government of these countries should – under an explicit request by their respective Parliaments – soon provide all the information that they themselves have long agreed as necessary for better transparency and mutual trust on arms exports”.
Despite the shortcomings of data, it should be pointed out that also the actual deliveries of armaments of the EU countries have increased in 2009: they reached (taking into account only the countries that provided data for the last two years) over € 10.2 billion representing an increase of 21% compared to 2008 (when they were at less than € 8.5 billion)

Arms export: the geo-political area

Analysing the Report, ENAAT find out a big discrepancy (error?) in the data: the sum of the total value of export licences by the 13 geo-political regions of destination is € 36.5 billion euro which does not match the amount reported as "Worldwide” (€ 40.3 billion euro). “This discrepancy may bring to make inaccurate evaluation of arms exports to geo-political areas” – notes someone of ENAAT.
Assuming as a matter of comparison not the figure reported under “Worldwide” (€ 40.3 billion euro), but the total sum of the values of export licences by regions of destination (€ 36.5 billion), it should be noted that the value of authorization of exports of arms to the countries of the South of the world overreach (exceed) those to the countries of the Northern Hemisphere (North America, EU and other European countries including Turkey, Japan and Oceania). In 2009, to countries of the South of the world were allowed export licences for almost € 19.5 billion (53,3 %) compared to just over € 17 billion to the countries in the Northern Hemisphere (46.7%). “The figure is even more significant and in several respects preoccupying – notes ENAAT spokesperson (name) – when you consider that intra-Community transfers of weapons fell from € 10.6 billion in 2008 to € 9.6 billion in 2009, while those for the Middle East, one of areas of greatest tension in the world, have almost doubled rising from € 4.9 billion in 2008 to over € 9.6 billion in 2009”.

Nearly halved also military exports to “other countries of the European continent” (from € 3 billion in 2008 to € 1.6 billion in 2009) while doubled those to the countries of North Africa (from € 985 million to € 2 billion) and nearly tripled those to countries of Central and South America (from 807 million to 2.3 billion). The analysis of long-term exports – never undertaken by the EU Reports – shows that the countries of the European Union account for less than a third of the overall value of European arms exports, while from 2002 to 2009 nearly half of the total value (46,8%) of the European Union licences for export of military equipment has been directed to countries of the South of the world.
“The high value and percentage of arms export to countries in the South of the world is a matter – notes the spokesperson of ENAAT – on which the EU report does not make any comment but that should be carefully evaluated by national Parliaments. This should be done thoroughly and quickly since all the EU countries Government are implementing new policies to facilitate arms transfers. The understandable need to harmonize EU countries legislations to facilitate the transfers of military equipment within the EU should not result in a loosening of controls on the recipients of European armaments which are mainly the countries of the South”.

“Moreover it is preoccupying – adds the ENAAT spokesperson –  that the recent proposal on the lifting of arms embargo on China is strongly sustained with economic and commercial motivation rather than with the principles defined by the EU Common Position on arms exports that calls for EU member states to “prevent the export of technology and military equipment that can be used for internal repression or international aggression or contribute to regional instability”.
On this matter, ENAAT denounces that the arms export of the EU to countries under embargo including China has countinued in 2009: € 209 million euro of export licences have been granted, maily for France (€ 199 million) which gave the green light for export to Beijing of “military aircraft” (€ 84 million) and “equipment for viewing images or countermeasure" (€ 95 million). “Even these exports – adds the ENAAT spokesperson –  for the EU appears to be a mere data on which the Report does not make any comment”.
“In short – concludes ENAAT spokesperson –  the EU Report is full of facts and figures, but is lacking in analysis and political evaluation. We ask national Governments, the European Parliament and national Parliaments to remedy on this if we really do not want that the arms export remains a mere statistical data. European Parliaments should exercise that “special responsibility” in monitoring and evaluating the practice of Member States exporters of technology and military equipment required by the EU Common Position”.

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