My post below mentions a Code of Conduct that needs to be implemented to make a lifting of the EU’s arms embargo somewhat more palatable for the United States. The EU will have to work very hard at creating and enforcing a Code that is worth more than the paper it is written on, though, for the existing Code simply doesn’t work:
Although officially the European Parliament’s hands are tied regarding armaments questions, parliamentarians increasingly see it as their duty to comment on controversial developments. This criticism has now been made into a 26-page report by Spanish Parliamentarian Raul Romeva Rueda.
Rueda’s report took issue with the EU’s code of conduct for weapons sales, which is supposed to provide a set of ethical guidelines for countries to follow. However, the document, which was created in 1998, is not legally binding. The European Parliament is overwhelmingly in favor of changing that.
“The main problem with the code of conduct is that it is a very weak instrument,” Rueda said.
The code of conduct sets a series of minimum standards for arms exports. Those include stipulations that no weapons should be sold to countries that might use them to abuse human rights. Weapons are also not to go to countries where regional conflicts are taking place, or where weapons purchases will further poverty in the population.
“Some of the equipment being sent to countries is torture equipment, or equipment that is being used to apply the death penalty,” he said. “You have electric sticks, for instance, that is sometimes used by some police to force confessions.”
This has, as already mentioned in previous post, led to a vote against lifting the embargo
The question of the weapons embargo placed on China after the 1989 crushing of a pro-democracy uprising in Tiananmen Square has proved decisive among EU nations, although not in the parliament. MEPs called on the EU Council and member states to maintain the EU embargo with China and not to weaken the existing national limitations on such arm sales.
While the EU legislature’s vote is not binding, it does carry some moral weight.
According to EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten, China does not meet international standards on human rights. While he added that the embargo is a matter for the leaders of EU member states, he was adamant that he did not want the embargo to be cancelled.
“Without making any direct link, we have … told China that lifting the embargo would be greatly assisted if they could take concrete steps in the field of human rights,” he told parliamentarians.
Fore those who are interested the full Rueda report can be found here.