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Dual-use controls

Dual-use items are goods, software and technology normally used for civilian purposes but which may have military applications, or may contribute to the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

The EU therefore controls the export, transit and brokering of dual-use items as a key instrument contributing to international peace and security.

Dual-use controls in a nutshell

Dual-use items represent a significant portion of EU trade with strategic partners. EU dual-use industries bring together thousands of small, medium and large companies providing high value-added jobs across a wide range of key sectors of the EU economy.

Dual use trade and the EU economy

Dual-use export controls affect research and development (R&D), production and trade of typically high-tech, advanced products across a wide-range of civil industries – e.g. energy, aerospace, defence and security, lasers and navigation, telecommunications, life sciences, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, material-processing equipment, electronics, semiconductor and computing industries, medical and automotive.

EU export controls are thus crucial to the EU's drive towards innovation and competitiveness.

EU trade policy and Dual-use export regulations

The EU export control regime is governed by Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 , which provides for common EU control rules, a common EU control list and harmonised policies for implementation.

The Regulation is binding and directly applicable throughout the EU.

EU Member States nevertheless need to take certain complementary measures for implementing some of its provisions, e.g. in relation to breaches and applicable penalties. An overview of national measures is published at regular intervals.

Prospects for an evolution of the EU export control regime

Export controls, as a security-related trade instrument, remain, more than ever, at the forefront of international non-proliferation efforts. They need to adjust to the evolution of security risks and threats – including the various forms of terrorism and the efforts by some States and non-state actors to acquire weapons of mass destruction and corresponding carrier technology and armaments.

The European Commission regularly holds public consultations, and maintains a constant dialogue with industry associations, academia and civil society, in order to strike the right balance between security and competitiveness.  Moreover, EU Member States also conduct outreach and dialogue with business associations and stakeholders at national level.

In 2011, the European Commission adopted a Green Paper on "Strategic export controls: ensuring security and competitiveness in a changing world" launching a broad public consultation on the implementation of export controls under the Regulation. The report on the public consultation, adopted in January 2013 identified the main issues raised by stakeholders as regards the strengths and weaknesses of the EU export control system, its impact on both security and trade and their views concerning possible improvements and evolutions towards a more integrated EU export control regime.

The report thus opens the way for the preparation of a Communication outlining a long-term vision for EU strategic export controls and which may announce concrete policy initiatives for their adaptation to rapidly changing technological, economic and political circumstances.

More on Dual-use export controls

EU Export control system and related EU links
International organisations in charge of disarmament and non-proliferation
Organisations, academia and researches on security related issues including export control