Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the FCO: EU embargo on China

  In our response to the Strategic Export Controls Committees' Report of March 2001, we promised to update you on our discussions with EU partners about the possibility of agreeing a common interpretation of the arms embargo against China.

  We have approached EU partners to see whether they would be willing to support a common interpretation. These consultations have shown that there is no consensus in favour of changing the present situation, whereby each member state interprets the embargo in its own way. No EU country, other than the UK, currently publishes national criteria for the implementation of the EU Arms Embargo on China and there is not any easy or natural consensus in favour of establishing a common position. Several member states are opposed to reopening this question. We therefore, reluctantly conclude that there is no possibility, at this stage, of reaching a common interpretation of the EU embargo against China.

  However, we remain satisfied that the present arrangements are effective in controlling defence exports to China. As you know, we look at export licence applications on a case-by-case basis against our national interpretation of the embargo and against the Consolidated EU and National Export Licensing Criteria. Our partners similarly consider applications against their interpretations of the embargo and against the EU Code of Conduct. Our consultations have revealed that there is no substance to the suggestion that some member states are relaxing their interpretations of the embargo.

16 October 2001

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