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Dual-use export controls

The trade in dual-use items – goods, software and technology that can be used for both civilian and military applications and/or can contribute to the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) – is subject to controls to prevent the risks that these items may pose for international security. The controls derive from international obligations (in particular UN Security Council Resolution 1540, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention) and are in line with commitments agreed upon in multilateral export control regimes.

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

The EU export control regime is governed by Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 , which provides for common EU control rules, a common EU list of dual-use items as well as coordination and cooperation to support consistent implementation and enforcement throughout the EU.

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 enforcement and applicable penalties. An overview of national measures  is published at regular intervals.

More on the export control regime and export authorizations

Better Regulation Agenda

Review of the EU dual-use export control regime

Feedback on Roadmap

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 industries – e.g. energy, aerospace, defence and security, telecommunications and information security, life sciences, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, material-processing equipment, electronics, semiconductor and computing industries, lasers and navigation. Dual-use industries bring together thousands of small, medium and large companies providing high value-added jobs across key sectors of the EU economy. Dual use items represent a significant portion of EU trade with key partners and are crucial to the EU's drive towards innovation and competitiveness.

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, and 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. Export controls also need to adjust to rapid technological and scientific developments and transformations in global economic relations.

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

In 2011, the Commission initiated a wide-ranging "export control policy review" with a "Green paper"  public consultation. The Commission 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. That report opened the way for the adoption, in April 2014, of Communication (2014)244 , which outlines a long-term vision for EU strategic export controls and identifies concrete policy options for the modernisation of the export control system.

In 2015, the Commission embarked on an impact assessment in order to assess the costs and benefits associated with the various review options outlined in the Communication, notably as regards potential regulatory simplification and burden reduction. As part of the impact assessment, an online public consultation  was organised from 15 July to 15 October 2015. The impact assessment will allow the Commission to identify the most suitable regulatory and non-regulatory actions and to prepare a proposal for amendments to Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 in 2016.