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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 8 May 2013

Commission proposes the signature of the Arms Trade Treaty

The European Commission has today proposed a Council decision authorising EU Member States to sign the treaty on the international trade in conventional weapons, the so-called Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The ATT aims to make the legal trade in conventional arms more responsible, by setting high common international standards on imports, exports and transfers. It provides for the assessment of arms transfers and measures to prevent the diversion of conventional arms from the importing and exporting States. In addition, it enhances transparency in arms trading by requiring record keeping and reporting to the Secretariat and other State Parties. The provisions of the ATT cover conventional arms of the following categories: battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers and small arms and light weapons. The Treaty also covers the related ammunition/ munitions and parts and components.

As the ATT concerns matters of exclusive EU competence, such as for import and export controls, Member States can only decide on accession to the ATT after authorisation by the Council upon a proposal by the Commission.

European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: "The purpose of the Arms Trade Treaty is to contribute to international and regional peace, security and stability by regulating the international trade in conventional arms and eradicating the illicit arms trade. It is vital to fill the gap of the unregulated trade of conventional arms at an international level and to assist the development of peace-building and humanitarian efforts."

Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, said: "The EU and its Member States support early signature and ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty, not least so that we can build on the momentum created by the recent General Assembly vote and ensure quick implementation. By establishing common legally binding standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms, the ATT will make the arms trade both more responsible and more transparent. It has the potential to reinforce international peace and security."

More information : http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/defence/att/index_en.htm

Signature of arms treaty on 3 June

The ATT, by establishing common legally binding standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms, makes the arms trade more responsible and transparent, an objective shared by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. The illegal, or poorly regulated, trade in conventional arms costs lives – more than 740,000 men, women and children die each year as a result of armed violence. The swift entry into force of the ATT is thus of utmost importance and it is therefore recommended that as many Member States as possible sign the Treaty on 3 June 2013, at the Solemn Ceremony.

Background

The Treaty was finally adopted on 2 April 2013 by a Resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations. In this Resolution, that gathered the overwhelming majority of UN Members, 3 June 2013 was agreed as the designated date for opening the signature of the Treaty. The Treaty will enter into force ninety days after the fiftieth ratification.

The abstention in the UN General Assembly vote of a number of significant arms exporters and importers challenges the political mainstream around the ATT objectives. However, it is positive that these countries have all committed to an internal inter-agency process of analysis of the Treaty text that will determine their future position vis-à-vis the ATT. The main political change compared to July 2012, when the ATT was first negotiated within the UN, is certainly the clear and proactive support of the United States to the conclusion of the Treaty.

Contacts :

Carlo Corazza (+32 2 295 17 52) Twitter: @ECspokesCorazza

Sara Tironi (+32 2 299 04 03)


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