Why BDI Supports Dual-Use Reform But Not the New Catch-All Rules

In September 2016, the European Commission adopted a reform proposal for its export control regime that sets out extensive amendments to the EU dual-use regulation. The proposed changes could have a negative impact on Europe as a technology location. The European Parliament and Council must now ensure a sound judgment in the legislative process. In a recently published position paper, BDI made recommendations on how to improve the reform proposal.

The European Commission would like to strengthen the so-called human security approach in export controls. The approach aims at regulating the export of certain cyber-surveillance technologies more strictly in cases in which they are deployed for surveillance purposes and might lead to human rights violations. According to the European Commission, the current export control system is solid but still has loopholes when it comes to controlling the export of critical cyber-surveillance technology to third countries. These conclusions were based on reports about human rights violations during the Arab Spring: journalists and civil society organizations reported human rights violations against regime opponents who had been monitored by state agencies. According to press reports, EU-technologies were used in some instances to monitor those individuals.

BDI explicitly backs strengthening human rights in third countries. It also supports the EU's value-based trade agenda that is intended to ensure high standards of sustainability, human rights, and democracy. However, the tools proposed in the reform proposal go beyond what is necessary. In fact, they could even fail to protect human rights. This is especially true for the new catch-all rules. In its position paper, BDI proposes an extended list-based approach that should be considered instead.

The attached article explains why the new catch all rules are not only inefficient but also ineffective and why they are even harming European Rule of Law values.