Tuesday 20 January 2009

EU defence transfer licenses

The Defence Transfers Directive, officially Directive 2009/.../EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on simplifying terms and conditions of transfers of defence-related products within the Community, creates a common license framework for the member states of the European Union.

In principle, the transfer of defence-related products requires prior authorisation, even between the EU member states.

The member states can exempt certain transfers from the licensing requirement, for instance when the recipient is a government or its armed forces, the EU, NATO and another intergovernmental organisation (Article 4).

When authorisation is needed, the Defence Transfers Directive offers the member states two options aimed at reducing the bureaucracy of individual transfer licenses: general and global transfer licenses.

The following presentation is only a rough sketch. For detail, you have to read the Directive.


General transfer licences

Member States shall publish general transfer licences directly granting authorisation to suppliers, established on their respective territories, who fulfil the terms and conditions attached to the licence, to perform transfers of defence-related products to be specified in the licence to a category or categories of recipients located in another member state.

The main aim of the general transfer license is to cover procurement by the armed forces of an EU member state or a contracting authority buying exclusively for the armed forces, but there are other grounds too (Article 5).


Global transfer licenses

Global transfer licences are granted for three years, and they can be renewed. The global transfer license covers an individual supplier of products to recipients in one or more EU member states.

The licensing member state determines in each global transfer licence the defence-related products or categories of products covered by the global transfer licence, as well as the authorised recipients or category of recipients (Article 6).


Individual transfer licences

If neither a general nor a global transfer license applies, the last resort is an individual transfer license (if any).

The member state grants an individual transfer licence to an individual supplier authorising one transfer of a specified quantity of specified defence-related products to be transmitted in one or several shipments to one recipient in one or more of the following cases:

a) where the request for a licence is limited to one transfer;

b) where it is necessary for the protection of its essential security interests, or for the protection of public policy;

c) where it is necessary for compliance with international obligations and commitments of Member States;

d) where a Member State has serious reasons to believe that the supplier will not be able to comply with all the terms and conditions necessary to grant it a global licence (Article 7).


The text of the Defence Transfers Directive, adopted by the European Parliament, is available here:


Ralf Grahn

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