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Strict rules

Principles for arms exports adopted

Tightening criteria further, promoting European cooperation and incorporating development status - these are the objectives pursued by the Federal Government in updating its political principles for exporting military weapons and other armaments (Politische Grundsätze für den Export von Kriegswaffen und sonstigen Rüstungsgütern). 

Armaments on palettes in a transport plane.

In principle, small arms are no longer to be exported to non-member states.

Photo: Bundeswehr / Tessensohn

The regulations revised and adopted by the Federal Cabinet highlight the restrictive approval practices for arms exports.

Taking current developments into account

For example, the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, which came into force in 2014, was explicitly incorporated. An EU agreement from 1998 on arms exports was replaced by the inclusion of a more up-to-date Common Position of the EU Council from 2008.

The political principles (Politische Grundsätze) also take into account and highlight regulations that have been introduced or revised since the year 2000. These include, for example, greater transparency towards the German Bundestag, the agreement of recipients of exports to possible post shipment inspections and the principles for small arms (Grundsätze für Kleinwaffen) already revised by the Federal Government in 2015.

No smalls arms to non-member states

The restrictive approval practices for exports to non-member states are to be maintained. In principle, small arms are now to be exported only to EU member states, NATO members or NATO equivalent states. The latter group comprises Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Switzerland.

The political principles (Politische Grundsätze) highlight both the value of the security and defence industry and that of maintaining technological competences. Cooperation with the European industry is to be promoted through common approaches or simplified procedures.

Strengthening European cooperation

The Federal Government would like to strengthen European cooperation in foreign policy and security policy. For this reason, existing support for European arms cooperation is to be further strengthened. This type of cooperation is funded within the framework of “Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO)”  on security and defence in the EU area and the “European Defence Fund". The basis of the European defence industry is to be reinforced.

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