No common position! European arms export control in crisis

Release date: 2022-04

The European arms export control system is facing a dual crisis: An ongoing crisis of effectiveness has led to a crisis of legitimacy. In many ways, that crisis is a permanent one, where collective efforts to regulate a policy field and implement agreed-upon norms and rules fail to succeed. To explain the different layers of the European arms export control crisis, we draw on global governance research of International Relations and legalisation approaches of international law. The lack of effectiveness of the European Union Common Position on arms exports has become particularly visible in the two review processes where member states failed to agree on meaningful revisions. The Europeanisation of arms production adds additional pressure to the system, as member states differ in their national arms export licensing policy practices. In sum, these developments have led non-governmental organisations and civil society to protest and file successful court cases against arms export practices violating international humanitarian law and human rights law. The article also focuses on possible means of alleviating the crisis of European arms export control.

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