All European Union (EU) member states are required to submit information on arms export licences and arms exports for inclusion in the EU annual reports on arms exports.
The example of Central Asia— Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan—shows that the data in these EU annual reports has only a limited utility for monitoring exports of arms and military equipment. The specific case of Uzbekistan, which was subject to an EU arms embargo between 2005 and 2009, shows that certain transfers of apparent concern have been reported but not investigated, while other transfers have not appeared in the annual reports.
Although Central Asia is not a major market for EU arms exports, the case highlights the challenges of using the data in the annual reports to assess the harmonization of arms export policies in the EU.
Specific steps can be taken to improve the annual reports and to extend their utility. These include: expanding the coverage of the annual reports to include more detail on specific transfers, including end-users; increasing parliamentary oversight at both the national and European levels; monitoring licensing arrangements for the production of arms and military equipment outside the EU; and reconsidering the role and purpose of EU arms embargoes and improving their monitoring.
II. European Union arms export controls challenges
III. The example of Central Asia
IV. The arms embargo on Uzbekistan, 2005–2009
V. Challenges in the use of data from European Union annual reports
VI. Conclusions and recommendations
About the authors
Dr Paul Holtom (United Kingdom) is the Director of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. Previously, he was a Research Fellow with the University of Glamorgan Centre for Border Studies. His most recent publications include Transparency in Transfers of Small Arms and Light Weapons: Reports to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, 2003–2006, SIPRI Policy Paper no. 22 (2008), Implementation of the EU Common Position on the Control of Arms Brokering (SEESAC, 2009) and ‘Nothing to report: the lost promise of the UN Register of Conventional Arms’, Contemporary Security Policy (April 2010). He has contributed to the SIPRI Yearbook since 2007.
Mark Bromley (United Kingdom) is a Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme, where his work focuses on European arms exports and export controls and South American arms acquisitions. Previously, he was a Policy Analyst for the British American Security Information Council (BASIC). His publications include ‘The Europeanisation of arms export policy in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland’, European Security (June 2007), The Impact on Domestic Policy of the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports: The Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Spain, SIPRI Policy Paper no. 21 (May 2008), and Air Transport and Destabilizing Commodity Flows, SIPRI Policy Paper no. 24 (May 2009, co-author). He has contributed to the SIPRI Yearbook since 2004.