Reasons for and objectives of the proposal
The United Kingdom submitted on 29 March 2017 the notification of its intention to withdraw from the Union pursuant to Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. This means that, if the Withdrawal Agreement1 is not ratified, the Unions’ primary and secondary law will cease to apply to the United Kingdom from 30 March 2019 (‘the withdrawal date’). The United Kingdom will then become a third country.
The Commission Communication ‘Preparing for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 30 March 2019: a Contingency Action Plan’ of 13 November 20182 has set out the contingency measures it plans to take for the case that no withdrawal agreement will enter into force on the withdrawal date. In that Communication, the Commission listed the actions it considered necessary while recalling that additional actions may be necessary at a later stage.
The European Council (Article 50) reiterated its call, on 13 December 2018, for work on preparedness at all levels for the consequences of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal to be intensified, taking into account all possible outcomes. This act is part of a package of measures which the Commission is adopting in response to this call.
Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 of 5 May 2009 setting up a Community regime for the control of exports, transfer, brokering and transit of dual-use items3 creates a common system of controls for export of dual-use items, in line with the international commitments and responsibilities of the Member States and of the European Union (EU). Under the Regulation, an authorisation shall be required for the export of dual-use items to third countries. This authorisation may be an individual, global or general authorisation. In order to support the EU’s competitiveness and establish a level playing field for all Union exporters, while at the same time ensuring a high level of security and full compliance with international obligations, Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 provides for “Union General export authorisations” for the export of certain dual-use items to certain third countries under certain conditions. In particular, Annex IIa to the Regulation provides for a Union General Export Authorisation (“EU001”) for certain low-risk transactions, e.g. exports to Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland (incl. Liechtenstein), and the United States of America.
The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union without an agreement affects the trade of dual-use items between the EU and the United Kingdom: according to Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009, the export of dual use items from the EU to the United Kingdom will require, as of the withdrawal date, an export authorisation issued by the competent national authority of the Member State where the exporter is established.
There are a number or reasons why the United Kingdom should be added to the list of countries on EU001:
The United Kingdom is a party to relevant international treaties and a member of international non-proliferation regimes and maintains full compliance with related obligations and commitments;
The United Kingdom maintains full compliance with obligations under sanctions imposed by a decision or a common position adopted by the Council or by a decision of the OSCE or by a resolution of the Security Council of the United Nations;
The United Kingdom applies proportionate and adequate controls effectively addressing considerations about intended end use and the risk of diversion consistent with the provisions and objectives of this Regulation. Moreover, it is necessary to ensure a uniform and consistent application of controls throughout the EU in order to provide a level playing field for EU exporters and to protect EU and international security.
This proposal does not affect the ongoing ordinary legislative procedure to recast Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 proposed by the Commission on 28 September 2016.4
Consistency with other Union policies
The EU export control regime for dual-use items provides that export authorisations are normally issued by the national competent authorities based on case-by-case assessments. A requirement for a specific authorisation for export to the United Kingdom is likely to cause significant administrative burden for exporters and competent authorities and risk creating an uneven playing field for exporters in the Member State, thus affecting the good functioning of the internal market and of the Common Commercial Policy. These disruptive effects could be mitigated by adding the United Kingdom to the list of destinations covered by EU001. This proposal is thus consistent with the general approach to contingency measures to address a withdrawal of the United Kingdom without agreement.
Moreover, considering that the United Kingdom is an important destination for dual-use exports and that it is committed to and ensures full compliance with relevant international obligations and commitments, adding the United Kingdom to the list of destinations covered by EU001 is also consistent with the objectives of this Regulation with respect to international and EU security.