Select Committee on Defence Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA) (11 December 2000)

  QCEA welcomes the decision of the Select Committee on Defence to scrutinise the Framework Agreement. We hope that our comments will assist the Committee in its work.

  QCEA was established in 1979 to bring the concerns of Quakers in European countries (inside and outside the EU) to the attention of decision makers in Europe. In focusing on peace, human rights and economic justice, we are increasingly aware that the use of violence to achieve the objectives of any actor in the field sabotages hopes of sustainable human development. It is a denial of the value in the eyes of God for each individual. We believe that the arms trade serves to increase the risk of violence even when it supplies "western" democracies.


  We endorse the points made by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) in its submission to the inquiry.

  Despite our position on arms sales, we recognise that national arms industries have an established place in national political, economic and defence thinking. We recognise also the pressures favouring consolidation and integration of EU industries in face of (particularly) US competition, and also the national and Europe-wide arguments for security of supply. Mergers and harmonisation make business sense. We recognise also that security of supply will feature in national policies, and hope that the provisions of the Agreement will reduce pressures for duplication of capacity within Europe solely to achieve this. For this reason and this reason only, we would welcome the adherence of more member states to the Agreement. We wonder what plans there are to provide for this.

  The Framework Agreement itself seems to have to bridge two objectives which are not wholly compatible. The preamble to the agreement (paragraph 8) both expects to maintain industry's capacity to export but also to manage such exports responsibly in accordance with obligations such as the EU's Code of Conduct on Arms Exports. We do not feel that the state of the world implies a need for a growing or even sustained arms trade. We hope that the profit motive and the drive to compete with the USA will not override the ethical interests of the wider world.

  In these contexts we cannot avoid the impression that the arms industry is driving some of the political discourse in European defence policy.


  We see a risk that countries with more cautious approaches to export licensing will be overruled by less restrictive signatories; there may also be a risk that the industry will be able to plan its product supply chains to take advantage of the most favourable grantor of export licences.

  We are not clear whether or not the list of permitted export destinations will be made public, but we obviously believe that it should be. There should be no obstacles in the way of aligning the list with the working of the EU Code of Conduct. This may mean recognising the concerns of non-signatories about the credentials of an export destination.

  We welcome the provision in Article 13 para 3b for removing export destinations from the permitted list. In particular we are relieved that any Party can request a moratorium and that in the absence of consensus this moratorium will be sustained. At the same time, the procedure could allow a substantial volume of questionable deliveries to take place while a situation is debated. We also consider the reference to international embargoes in paragraph 2c as surprisingly cautious.

  As stated earlier, we understand that the Framework Agreement was signed partly to provide a collective self-sufficiency not achievable at national level. We are aware that this helps the European arms industry (it seems wrong to refer to it as a defence industry) to compete with US and other external supplies. We do not believe, however, that the industry should be unnecessarily sheltered from the EC competition policies that apply to civil products. Article 5 of the agreement refers to relationships between industries in signatory states but not to their collective stance vis-a"-vis the outside world.

  It is not for a pacifist commentator to speculate in detail on shareholding and ownership issues in the arms industry (whether domestic within the EU or transatlantic), but we note that the Framework Agreement is silent on this.

  We would thus invite the Committee to explore the following issues:

  1.  How and how far will national government regulate Transnational Defence Corporations and keep track of their transactions?

  2.  How will the Framework Agreement affect national reporting under the EU Code of Conduct?

  3.  How will the list of export destinations be drawn up and subsequently managed? And on what time scale?

  4.  Has the Framework Agreement diminished transparency or democratic accountability?

  5.  How far should the arms industry be shielded from civil competition policies?

  6.  Was this Agreement entered into with openness and integrity, and what does it signify for non-signatories?

  We recognise that the Committee has already considered the EU Code of Conduct and note with regret the British government's refusal to confer on Parliament any role in the scrutiny of export requests. The second annual report on the Code of Conduct has now been released, and we look forward to the Committee's examination of that.

  We therefore take this opportunity, whether relevant or not, to mention our concerns about the Code of Conduct independently of the Memorandum of Agreement.

  These include the need to license and control brokers, the procedure for scrutiny of end uses, and the control of production under licence. There is also the matter of potential and actual dissimulation and criminality in all aspects of the arms business. (Since so many brokers are reported to be British, national pre-emptive legislation might not come amiss.)

  The Committee is no doubt aware of the "Titley Report" of the European Parliament (A5 0211/2000 of 18 July 2000). This highlights these and other weaknesses of the Code, even though it gives no weight to the case of disarmament as an overriding objective. The subsumed report of the European Parliament's Committee on Industry, Foreign Trade, Research and Energy, however, makes this the first item in its preamble.

  Recognising the fact that some non-EU member states have already signed up to the Code, we hope, in conclusion, that the Committee can commend it to all candidate countries, some of whose arms industries have the potential to undermine any attempts we may make to keep arms out of the hands of adventurers.

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