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Bernd Lange: New export rules for dual-use goods are a breakthrough for human rights in trade


25 Mar 2021


Trade & Society

Today, the plenary of the European Parliament will agree on stricter rules for the export of dual-use goods, which can be used for both civilian and military ends. Up until now, export restrictions applied to aerospace items, navigation instruments or trucks. From now on, these rules will also apply to EU produced cyber-surveillance technologies, which demonstrably have been abused by authoritarian regimes to spy on opposition movements; for instance, during the Arab Spring, in Turkey or China or as recently in Myanmar.

Reacting to the new rules, S&D dual-use negotiator and chair of the Parliament’s trade committee, Bernd Lange MEP, said:

“European companies should not be accomplices of authoritarian regimes in the violation of human rights and oppression. Therefore, the inclusion of cyber-surveillance technology in the export control rules for dual-use goods is a breakthrough for human rights in trade and was long overdue. Technological advances, new security challenges and their demonstrated risks to the protection of human rights require more decisive action and harmonised rules for EU export controls. We pushed hard to overcome six years of blocking by EU governments. Thanks to the stamina of the Parliament, it will now be much more difficult for authoritarian regimes to abuse EU produced cybersecurity tools such as biometric software or Big Data searches to spy on human rights defenders and opposition activists.

“Our message is clear: economic interests must not take precedence over human rights. Exporters have to shoulder greater responsibility and apply due diligence to ensure their products are not employed to violate human rights. We have also managed to increase transparency by insisting on listing exports in greater detail in the annual export control reports, which will make it much harder to hide suspicious items.

“The new dual-use regulation, together with the rules on conflict minerals and the soon to be adopted rules on corporate due diligence, are establishing a new gold standard for human rights in EU trade policy. We want the EU to lead globally on rules and values based trade. These policies show that we can manage globalisation to protect people and the planet.”