Strengthened EU export control rules kick in

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


The EU is today strengthening its ability to respond to new security risks and emerging technologies. The new Export Control Regulation enters into force today and will tighten controls on trade in dual-use items – civilian goods and technologies with possible military or security use – while enhancing the EU’s capacity to protect human rights and support secure supply chains for strategic items.

Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for EU Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, said: “We need to better respond to emerging threats in an increasingly volatile world. That means getting a better grip on dual-use technologies, including cyber-surveillance technologies that can be misused for human rights violations. Thanks to these new EU rules, the EU countries will now also work even more closely amongst themselves and with allies on potential security risks arising from biotech, Artificial Intelligence and other emerging technologies. We will also team up to ensure a level playing field for companies, for example, in the context of the new EU-US Trade and Technology Council.” 

The new framework allows the EU to take a number of important actions to pool expertise and tackle particular challenges, notably in relation to cyber-surveillance – where due diligence guidelines are in preparation – but also emerging dual-use technologies such as advanced computing.

The regulation introduces greater transparency by increasing the level of consultations and reporting between Member States and the Commission, contributing to the development of a new EU electronic licensing platform already piloted in four EU Member States.

It also provides a legal basis for EU action at multilateral, plurilateral and bilateral levels – recognising that the effectiveness of controls depends on the cooperation of the main technology producers – and builds on the existing multilateral framework of export controls, namely the Wassenaar Arrangement, which forms the basis for many restrictions imposed by the regulation at EU level.

Background

The Commission adopted its legislative proposal to modernise EU controls on exports of sensitive dual-use items – goods and technology – in September 2016, to replace the Regulation from 2009. Such items have many civilian uses but can also be used for defence, intelligence and law enforcement purposes (nuclear and special materials, telecommunication, electronics and computers, space and aerospace, marine equipment, etc.), and may also be misused for human rights violations.  

The new Regulation includes many of the Commission proposals for a comprehensive ‘system upgrade’, and will make the existing EU Export control system more effective by:

  • introducing a novel ‘human security’ dimension, so the EU can respond to the challenges posed by emerging dual-use technologies – especially, cyber-surveillance technologies – that pose a risk to national and international security; including protecting human rights;
  • updating key notions and definitions (e.g. definition of an ‘exporter’ to apply to natural persons and researchers involved in dual-use technology transfers);
  • simplifying and harmonising licensing procedures and allowing the Commission to amend – by ‘simplified’ procedure, i.e. delegated act – the list of items or destinations subject to specific forms of control, thereby making the export control system more agile and able to evolve and adjust to circumstances;
  • enhancing information exchange between licensing authorities and the Commission with a view to increasing the transparency of licensing decisions;
  • coordination of, and support for, robust enforcement of controls, including enhancing secure electronic information exchange between licensing and enforcement agencies;
  • developing an EU capacity-building and training programme for Member States’ licensing and enforcement authorities; 
  • outreach to industry and transparency with stakeholders, developing a structured relationship with the private sector through specific consultations of stakeholders by the relevant Commission group of Member States experts;
  • enabling stronger dialogues with third countries and seeking a level playing field at the global level.

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