Delivered in Plenary - 8th Septemer 2010
The conventional arms industry is an important contributor to the economies of many Member States, including my own, the United Kingdom. In an unstable and dangerous world, EU Member States need the capacity to defend themselves, their interests and their allies around the world.
However, the EU, by unanimous agreement intergovernmentally in Council, has made impressive efforts and progress in recent years to restrict the production and distribution of certain weapons and even ban the supply of arms to certain repressive regimes. We can be rightly proud of our advocacy in favour of the Ottawa Treaty, which bans anti-personnel mines globally. The issue of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which entered into force last month, will hopefully be another step towards eventually eliminating these nasty weapons – although I do note that at least six EU Member States are yet to ratify it.
In the EU’s neighbouring countries, we work hard under the MPI to monitor arms production and destroy nuclear weapon stockpiles, and this should be continued and even intensified.
We must always be vigilant against efforts by terrorists to acquire arms from countries where end-user licence regimes and arms exports are less rigorously policed and enforced.
Finally, the European Union should maintain its ban on exporting arms to China, for two reasons. Firstly because of the regime’s woeful human rights record against its own citizens, and secondly to show our support for our democratic ally Taiwan, which is potentially first in China’s line of fire.