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Biological and toxin weapons

The Strategy against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction adopted by the European Council on 12 December 2003 focuses on the fight against biological and toxin weapons. This Joint Action confirms the EU's support for the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) and pursues the objectives of promoting the universality of the BTWC and supporting the implementation of the Convention by the signatory States.


Council Joint Action 2006/184/CFSP  of 27 February 2006 in support of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in the framework of the EU Strategy against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction [Official Journal L 65 of 7.3.2006].


The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (afterwards BTWC ) was signed simultaneously in London, Moscow and Washington on 10 April 1972 and came into force on 26 March 1975. It prohibits the development, production, stockpiling, acquisition or retention of microbial or other biological agents of types and in quantities not justified for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes.

By June 2005, 171 countries had signed the Convention and 155 capitals had ratified its text

Chapter III of the EU's Strategy against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction recognises the importance of the BTWC and in particular of increased transparency in the implementation of the standards laid down in it.

To this end, the EU adopted an Action Plan intended to rekindle interest in the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) required as a mechanism for the exchange of information through annual reports and to reactivate the use of them. Through this Action Plan, the EU also seeks to improve the UN system for investigating allegations of the use of bioweapons, which is more than 15 years old.

EU assistance to the BTWC will be directed towards:

  • Promoting the universality of the BTWC.
  • Supporting implementation of the BTWC by the signatory States.

It will finance two projects described in detail in the annex to the Joint Action:

  • Promotion of the universality of the BTWC:Activities, including regional and subregional workshops and seminars, will be organised with a view to increasing membership. This will be implemented by the Presidency of the EU, assisted by the High Representative for the CFSP.
  • Aid to the signatory States
    Other activities - particularly conferences, assistance visits and translations - will be carried out to help the signatory States implement the BTWC at national level. The object is to ensure that the international obligations laid down in it are transposed into national law. The technical implementation of this project is entrusted to the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva.

The Action Plan has a duration of eighteen months and a budget of EUR 867 000.


Having approved this first Joint Action, the EU updated its position by adopting a new Common Position on the Review Conference of the BTWC held in 2006, which reaffirms the EU's objective of further strengthening that Convention.


ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Joint Action 2007/184/CFSP27.2.2006-Official Journal L 65 of 7 March 2006

This summary sheet is published for information purposes only. It neither interprets nor replaces the reference document, which remains the sole binding legal source.

Last updated: 08.10.2007

See also

For more information, visit the Council website.

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