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Germany 'plans to relax weapons export rules'

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Photo: DPA
14:12 CEST+02:00
German weapons manufacturers should have an easier time selling their products as the government intends to relax export regulations, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Sunday. The Economy Ministry denied the report.

Two draft papers drawn up in the Economy Ministry would affect the biggest sectors of the German arms export industry, the magazine said.

The aim would be to “purge foreign trade law” and to “lift special German rules which disadvantage German exporters in comparison to their European competitors,” the papers said.

But a spokeswoman for the ministry said the report was wrong. She said the export of weapons would not be affected by the draft amendments to the export trade rules. Current rules affecting arms would remain in place, she said.

But Der Spiegel said the drafts would mean that exports between European Union states were considered transfers rather than exports, enabling the licensing process to be simplified.

These proposals would harmonise German rules with the less restrictive EU laws, the magazine said – it would make it easier for weapons exporters to sell their products around the world via other countries.

“It used to be the case that the government always stressed that the tougher German rules would remain despite harmonisation within Europe,” said Katja Keul, a Green MP. “Obviously that no longer applies.”

Germany is already the world’s third largest arms exporter, yet just recently joined France, Britain and Sweden to call on the United Nations to draw up a new arms trade treaty with a strong human rights component.

Sunday’s Bild newspaper reported on a new contract between Algeria and Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems for two new frigates complete with helicopters in a €400 million deal which includes extensive training of Algerian soldiers by the German armed forces.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent trip to Indonesia was overshadowed by reports, which the government denied, of a deal to sell up to 100 used German tanks to the country. Indonesian media were reporting on the deal with reference to their defence ministry.

The Sunday Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that Keul wrote on her website that the Dutch parliament had rejected a suggested tank deal from the Indonesian government with reference to human rights abuses there.

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Keul complained that the German government made decisions on arms deals without consulting parliament – or even informing it after deals were done.

The Local/hc

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