Questioning the effectiveness of EU arms export control regime in curbing irresponsible arms exports: a greater role for the European Parliament?
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The EU is largely seen as playing a unique role in the international arena due to its commitment to normative values such as peace, liberty, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights, which are enshrined in the EU’s founding treaties. However, the EU’s member states are also among the largest arms exporters in the world, and these weapons have the power to exacerbate conflict and aid in the abuse of human rights. This thesis examines this relationship between the EU member states economic interests in the field of arms trade and the normative values they are obliged to uphold. It questions the effectiveness of the EU’s arms export control regime by examining the EU Code of Conduct and recent Common Position. The result is a mixed picture but when coupled with examples of how EU member states have undermined these norms in their actions in the field of arms exports, we can conclude that both the Code of Conduct and Common Position have not been effective. The study then considers ways to improve the situation by looking at a greater role for the European Parliament in this area, given the increasing competences of the EU in security and defence policy. Finally, it takes a brief look at the future of the arms industry and arms control and the need to find more innovative solutions to control irresponsible arms exports.