Cabinet adopts report: Germany exports less armaments

Cabinet approves report
Germany exports less armaments

Companies must obtain approval for the export of armaments from the federal government. There will be significantly fewer such permits in the first half of 2021 than in the same period of the previous year. The traffic light is still struggling to find a common line on this sensitive issue.

The federal government approved significantly fewer arms exports in the first half of 2021 than in the same period of the previous year. This emerges from a report by the Ministry of Economic Affairs that the Federal Cabinet intends to adopt. From January to June, the export of weapons and other military equipment from Germany was approved for 2.3 billion euros – 17 percent less than in the same period of the previous year.

The most important arms export figures for the months January to June had already been published in advance by the Ministry of Economic Affairs in July. The semi-annual report now goes into a little more detail on the exports of the arms industry. Since 2014, the government has reported on its export permits twice a year to ensure greater transparency.

The share of controversial exports to countries outside the EU and NATO fell particularly sharply: For these so-called third countries, export licenses were issued for 499 million euros – less than a third of the 1.74 billion in the first half of 2020. The exports to these so-called third countries are explosive because of the human rights situation in some of these countries and the involvement in conflicts.

Greens: Exports are to become an exception again

Export permits fell continuously between 2016 and 2018, but then jumped to a record value of 8.015 billion euros in 2019. In 2020, they then fell again by more than a quarter to 5.82 billion euros. This trend continued in the first half of 2021.

The future arms export policy is also an issue in the negotiations on a traffic light coalition. The SPD and the Greens are pushing for an arms export law, above all to further restrict exports to third countries. “With a law we want to ensure that export permits are not always so erratic and unpredictable, but that the federal government acts on the basis of clear, binding criteria,” said the Greens armaments expert Katja Keul. “The goal is that exports to third countries really become the exception again – especially when it comes to war weapons.”

The FDP, on the other hand, is more in favor of a European regulation of arms export control. However, there are very different views within the European Union when it comes to dealing with countries that are criticized for human rights violations or that are involved in regional conflicts. France, for example, has significantly fewer problems with arms deliveries to such countries than Germany.

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