Sven Giegold

Arms exports: Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs presents key points for a values-based arms export law

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Dear friends, dear interested,

Our Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection has now presented the key points for the Arms Export Control Act (REKG) agreed in the coalition agreement. In future, compliance with human rights and European arms cooperation will have greater weight in decisions on arms exports. In recent months, I have worked intensively with the staff at the Ministry on the concept of the REKG.

Our guiding themes are bindingness, restraint, transparency and Europe.

For the first time, the REKG is intended to cast German and European rules into a binding German law. A restrictive practice on the export of military equipment will thus become law, as will the strengthening of European cooperation in the field of defence. A restrictive arms export policy is an integral part of our foreign policy and corresponds to our security interests. The closer other countries are to this value base, the more arms exports are possible and legitimate. Our arms export decisions must correspond to the reliability of the recipient states in matters of human rights, the rule of law and democracy. Support for a multilateral order and other security interests are also taken into account.

The most important elements of our cornerstones are:

  • Create binding criteria: For the first time, a catalogue of criteria is to be laid down by law for arms export decisions by the Federal Government. The legal catalogue of criteria is largely based on the eight criteria of the EU Common Position on Arms Exports and is supplemented by additional requirements from the respective Political Principles of the Federal Government.
  • Strengthening human rights: The consideration of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the recipient country will be given greater weight through the introduction of an expanded human rights criterion. A restrictive decision-making practice – especially towards third countries – is thus underlined. In future, applications for recipient countries with a tense human rights situation and in the case of persistent and systematic violations of human rights are to be rejected as a matter of principle.
  • Strengthening Europe: At the same time, the requirements resulting from the cooperation with our strategic partners and a strengthened European armament cooperation are taken into account in the cornerstones. On the one hand, the goal of European regulation in the form of an EU arms export regulation is emphasised. On the other hand, new binding regulations are to be established for cooperation projects in the field of armaments. For the first time, the possibility of majority decisions by the countries involved in a project on the export of jointly produced armaments is to be made possible. This underlines the importance of cooperation in the defence industry in Europe. Unfair locational competition for the lax application of European rules will thus equally be limited.
  • Increase transparency: Transparency about licences granted will be increased through various measures. The information of the Bundestag will also be further improved.
  • Strengthening victim protection: The rights of those who suffer harm to life and limb as a result of qualified breaches of duty by arms exporters will be strengthened. Corresponding civil liability can be asserted in court by associations.
  • Reduce bureaucracy: The cumbersome dual licensing requirement for the export of arms under the War Weapons Control Act and the Foreign Trade and Payments Act will be concentrated in one procedure.

We will now discuss the key points with the security-relevant ministries in the coalition. Based on this, we will then draft the legislation and submit it to the Cabinet before the Bundestag can begin its deliberations on the legislative procedure.

We welcome feedback from civil society, business and academia! Feel free to share my tweet here.

So far, only early coordination has taken place with the coalition partners. This does not include their agreement on the key points. However, it became clear that my plans to allow representative action in the Courts by associations would not be approved by the coalition partners.

The drafting of the cornerstones was preceded by an open and broad consultation process. The comments from business, science and civil society can be found here. You can find our summary of the key points here. You can read the entire key points of our law here. All documents in German for the time being.

Together with the team from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Action, I am now working full steam ahead to ensure that this groundbreaking legislative project of the traffic light coalition becomes reality!

INVITATION: Discuss with me! – Webinar “One Year in Berlin” on Wednesday, 19.10.2022 at 20:00 hrs (Brussels). At the invitation of Europe Calling e.V., I would like to present my personal résumé after one year and ten months in the Bundestag elections and enter into dialogue with you. Be there and invite others. Register here!

With European greetings,

Yours, Sven Giegold

Category: BMWK

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