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Bernd Lange: Tonight’s agreement on dual-use goods is a breakthrough for human rights in trade


09 Nov 2020


Trade & Society

Today in the late afternoon, negotiators from the European Parliament, the Commission and member states after six years of negotiations finally agreed 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. 

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

“All good things are worth waiting for. Today, the European Parliament achieved a breakthrough for human rights in trade by overcoming six years of EU governments blocking the inclusion of cyber-surveillance technology in the export control rules for dual-use goods. 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. 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.

“Tonight’s agreement on dual-use items, 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.  I 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.”



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