Transparency and Reporting on Arms Exports within and from the EU

July 10, 2020
Ian Stewart

The EU’s annual report on arms export control presently lags behind the national reports of many countries. The introduction of a searchable online database will be a substantial step in increasing the user-friendliness of the report.

This paper makes recommendations with regard to readability, comprehensiveness and comparability. Perhaps the principal recommendation is that steps be taken to harmonise the data provided under the categories ‘licensed value’ and ‘actual exports’, which are presently not consistently interpreted across the EU. The main argument of this paper is that the EU should move towards using data visualisation to complement the lengthy statistical tables in the annual report and thus make it more readable. The EU and its Member States should also explore opportunities to enhance the data contained in the report to include additional identified data fields, narrative sections to complement the statistical data, and disaggregated data on licence denials. In identifying additional data fields that could be included, the paper also examines the challenges associated with the provision of the data in each case.

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