Labour MEPs back report calling for stronger EU action on arms exports

Labour MEPs voted for a report today calling for stronger EU action on arms exports.

In 2013, the EU accounted for more than a quarter of the global share of arms exports, and Labour MEPs believe current events, including Ukraine, the rise of ISIS in the Middle East and the terror threat from returning jihadis means a tight, well-regulated EU arms export policy is essential.

Afzal Khan MEP, vice-chair of the European Parliament security and defence committee, said:

“Despite having common EU rules on arms exports, we still see European arms ending up in the hands of repressive regimes, terrorists and criminals, fuelling conflict.

“There are cases where national governments actively promote arms sales to authoritarian regimes all across the world.

“It is time to stop these double standards. Human rights and humanitarian law, not profit, must be at the heart of our policy decisions on arms sales.

“Labour MEPs believe arms export policy represents one of the pillars in our efforts to prevent conflict and strengthen international security.

“In today’s new global security environment, we need to reinforce our principles. We need a truly progressive and transparent European arms export policy with stricter risk assessments for granting export deals.

“The European Parliament has sent a signal to ministers on the need to tighten up EU rules and practices on arms exports.”

David Martin MEP, Socialists and Democrats Group spokesperson on international trade and the European Parliament rapporteur on the Arms Trade Treaty, said:

“A year ago the European Parliament overwhelmingly supported EU ratification of the UN Arms Trade Treaty, which establishes global rules for the buying and selling of arms.

“Transparency in the €20 billion European arms industry is long overdue. The Arms Trade Treaty requires an assessment of all exports to stop weapons ending up in conflicts fuelling genocide and human rights abuses.

“The unregulated trade in arms has had a devastating effect on peace and stability around the world. Proper implementation of the UN agreement starts with a coordinated EU approach to regulate the arms industry.”