8 February 2011
Arms export licences from European Union (EU) countries to four troubled north African countries, Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia, doubled in the year 2008-2009 from €985 million to €2 billion. Exports to Egypt also increased, as they did to the Middle East as a whole. These weapons will inevitably be used by authoritarian governments to crush dissent.
These massive increases are contained in a little noticed report XII Report on control of exports of military technology and equipment, published on 13 January by the European Union. The highly technical arms export data was analysed by Giorgio Beretta of Unimondo (One World, Italy) on behalf of groups in the European Network Against Arms Trade (ENAAT).
He found that arms exports to North Africa had risen dramatically over a five year period. In 2005, the four north African countries were licensed to receive arms exports worth €372 million - 1.4 percent of EU arms exports; by 2009 this had risen to €2 billion - 5 percent of the total.
The figures for the five countries were:
Algeria - €275 million in 2009 ; €351 million in 2008
Egypt - €293 million in 2009 ; €173 million in 2008
Libya - €343 million in 2009 ; €250 million in 2008
Morocco - €1.36 billion in 2009 ; €346 million in 2008
Tunisia - €52 million in 2009 ; €36 million in 2008.
The report reveals that in 2009 the largest EU arms exporters to the five countries were:
France - €816 million ; Netherlands - €557 million ; Italy - €303 million ; Germany - €180 million ; Malta - €80 million ; Bulgaria - €57 million ; Spain - €50 million ; UK - €44 million ; Belgium- €43 million; and Poland - €43 million.
Approved arms export licences from the UK also rose over the same period, although not uniformly.
Algeria - £6.9 million in 2009 ; £8.5 million in 2008
Egypt- £16.4 million in 2009 ; £23.4 million in 2008
Libya - £27.4 million in 2009 ; £14.5 million in 2008
Morocco- £1.7 million in 2009 ; £1.8 million in 2008
Tunisia - £5.9 million in 2009 ; £1.6 million in 2008.
Algeria and Libya are identified as priority countries by UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO), the UK government's arms sales unit. Algeria, Egypt, Libya and Morocco were invited to UK arms fairs Defence Security and Equipment International (DSEi) 2009 and the Farnborough Air Show in July 2010.
Kaye Stearman of the UK's Campaign Against Arms Trade said:
For years the UK has been selling weapons to these authoritarian regimes, although it is obvious that their main use would be for internal repression. France and Germany have belatedly suspended arms exports to Egypt, but not the UK, even though Foreign Secretary William Hague is visiting the region to support more "free and open societies". He should back up these noble sentiments with positive action and place an immediate arms embargo on the whole region.
For further information on EU arms sales contact Giorgio Beretta of Unimondo on +39-338-3041742 or email email giorgio beretta. For UK information contact CAAT Media Co-ordinator Kaye Stearman or email email the press officer.
1. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade. Around 80% of CAAt's income is raised from individual supporters.
2. European Network Against Arms Trade (ENAAT) is a grouping of European anti-arms trade organisations, including Campaign Against Arms Trade in the UK.
3. A fuller analysis of the report is available from CAAT.
4. "XII Report on control of exports of military technology and equipment". Previous reports are posted on the Council’s website: