Memorandum from the Quaker Council for
European Affairs (QCEA) (11 December 2000)
QCEA welcomes the decision of the Select Committee
on Defence to scrutinise the Framework Agreement. We hope that
our comments will assist the Committee in its work.
QCEA was established in 1979 to bring the concerns
of Quakers in European countries (inside and outside the EU) to
the attention of decision makers in Europe. In focusing on peace,
human rights and economic justice, we are increasingly aware that
the use of violence to achieve the objectives of any actor in
the field sabotages hopes of sustainable human development. It
is a denial of the value in the eyes of God for each individual.
We believe that the arms trade serves to increase the risk of
violence even when it supplies "western" democracies.
We endorse the points made by Campaign Against
Arms Trade (CAAT) in its submission to the inquiry.
Despite our position on arms sales, we recognise
that national arms industries have an established place in national
political, economic and defence thinking. We recognise also the
pressures favouring consolidation and integration of EU industries
in face of (particularly) US competition, and also the national
and Europe-wide arguments for security of supply. Mergers and
harmonisation make business sense. We recognise also that security
of supply will feature in national policies, and hope that the
provisions of the Agreement will reduce pressures for duplication
of capacity within Europe solely to achieve this. For this reason
and this reason only, we would welcome the adherence of more member
states to the Agreement. We wonder what plans there are to provide
The Framework Agreement itself seems to have
to bridge two objectives which are not wholly compatible. The
preamble to the agreement (paragraph 8) both expects to maintain
industry's capacity to export but also to manage such exports
responsibly in accordance with obligations such as the EU's Code
of Conduct on Arms Exports. We do not feel that the state of the
world implies a need for a growing or even sustained arms trade.
We hope that the profit motive and the drive to compete with the
USA will not override the ethical interests of the wider world.
In these contexts we cannot avoid the impression
that the arms industry is driving some of the political discourse
in European defence policy.
We see a risk that countries with more cautious
approaches to export licensing will be overruled by less restrictive
signatories; there may also be a risk that the industry will be
able to plan its product supply chains to take advantage of the
most favourable grantor of export licences.
We are not clear whether or not the list of
permitted export destinations will be made public, but we obviously
believe that it should be. There should be no obstacles in the
way of aligning the list with the working of the EU Code of Conduct.
This may mean recognising the concerns of non-signatories about
the credentials of an export destination.
We welcome the provision in Article 13 para
3b for removing export destinations from the permitted list. In
particular we are relieved that any Party can request a moratorium
and that in the absence of consensus this moratorium will be sustained.
At the same time, the procedure could allow a substantial volume
of questionable deliveries to take place while a situation is
debated. We also consider the reference to international embargoes
in paragraph 2c as surprisingly cautious.
As stated earlier, we understand that the Framework
Agreement was signed partly to provide a collective self-sufficiency
not achievable at national level. We are aware that this helps
the European arms industry (it seems wrong to refer to it as a
defence industry) to compete with US and other external supplies.
We do not believe, however, that the industry should be unnecessarily
sheltered from the EC competition policies that apply to civil
products. Article 5 of the agreement refers to relationships between
industries in signatory states but not to their collective stance
vis-a"-vis the outside world.
It is not for a pacifist commentator to speculate
in detail on shareholding and ownership issues in the arms industry
(whether domestic within the EU or transatlantic), but we note
that the Framework Agreement is silent on this.
We would thus invite the Committee to explore
the following issues:
1. How and how far will national government
regulate Transnational Defence Corporations and keep track of
2. How will the Framework Agreement affect
national reporting under the EU Code of Conduct?
3. How will the list of export destinations
be drawn up and subsequently managed? And on what time scale?
4. Has the Framework Agreement diminished
transparency or democratic accountability?
5. How far should the arms industry be shielded
from civil competition policies?
6. Was this Agreement entered into with
openness and integrity, and what does it signify for non-signatories?
We recognise that the Committee has already
considered the EU Code of Conduct and note with regret the British
government's refusal to confer on Parliament any role in the scrutiny
of export requests. The second annual report on the Code of Conduct
has now been released, and we look forward to the Committee's
examination of that.
We therefore take this opportunity, whether
relevant or not, to mention our concerns about the Code of Conduct
independently of the Memorandum of Agreement.
These include the need to license and control
brokers, the procedure for scrutiny of end uses, and the control
of production under licence. There is also the matter of potential
and actual dissimulation and criminality in all aspects of the
arms business. (Since so many brokers are reported to be British,
national pre-emptive legislation might not come amiss.)
The Committee is no doubt aware of the "Titley
Report" of the European Parliament (A5 0211/2000 of 18 July
2000). This highlights these and other weaknesses of the Code,
even though it gives no weight to the case of disarmament as an
overriding objective. The subsumed report of the European Parliament's
Committee on Industry, Foreign Trade, Research and Energy, however,
makes this the first item in its preamble.
Recognising the fact that some non-EU member
states have already signed up to the Code, we hope, in conclusion,
that the Committee can commend it to all candidate countries,
some of whose arms industries have the potential to undermine
any attempts we may make to keep arms out of the hands of adventurers.