In these past few years, the European Union (EU) has made significant progresses in its fight against the destabilizing accumulation and proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and their ammunition. The EU has been committed for several years now to this fight as a global actor working for peace and security. The EU has therefore equipped itself with instruments and action strategies which enabled it to carry out several operations abroad and to work with the countries directly concerned. It has also undertaken important modifications in the control of transfers of European armaments.
However, the European policy remains divided and lacks coherence with regard to an issue requiring a global response. Indeed, the fight against the proliferation of arms is a sector of policy at stake in the competences sharing in the field of the external action of the EU. The question of coherence in the formulation and the implementation of policies therefore becomes central.
In 2008, the EU sold on its own for nearly 3 billion Euros of SALW and ammunition. Weapons found in zones of tensions and conflicts and transported through legal as well as illicit channels often come from Europe. More than its aspiration to act as a global actor, it is its responsibility as a main international producer and exporter of SALW that should encourage the EU to further develop its policy on the fight against the proliferation of SALW and to couple its strong commitment to the capacity to act coherently.
This report gives a panorama of the European institutional architecture and an assessment of the actions related to the global issue of SALW. It also tackles the question of the implications of the pooling of the external policies of the EU as foretold by the Lisbon Treaty, recently adopted by the EU Member States, and the efficiency that would result from this pooling.