EU governments have indicated their interest in developing guidelines to assist national licensing authorities in the implementation of criterion 7 of the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports. The criterion concerns the existence of a risk that military technology or equipment may be diverted within the buyer country or re-exported under undesirable conditions. The development of guidelines on this criterion is a welcome development that has the potential to make a significant contribution to achieving the Code’s aim of responsible arms export policies by EU member states.
Nevertheless, there remains concern that ambitions by EU member states are aiming too low. Specifically, concrete and practical measures should be taken to assert the responsibility of EU member states to minimize diversions and undesirable transfers also once the technology or equipment has been exported. This means that the development of guidelines on criterion 7 should go hand-in-hand with efforts to further develop related counter-diversion policies under the EU Code.
This paper seeks to make the case for such comprehensive policy. It starts by highlighting the problem of inadequate management of diversion risks at licensing and post-licensing stages. The subsequent sections assess EU standards for such risk management and the scope for strengthening these. It is recommended that EU member states consider not only strengthening risk assessment at the licensing stage, but also delivery and post-delivery controls. In addition, member states should investigate into possible means for strengthening implementation capacities and the exchange of information on diversion risks.