The shows that the Federal Government continued its responsible and restrictive policy to exports of military equipment throughout 2018. In 2018, single-transaction export licences worth a total of €4.82 billion were issued (2017: €6.24 billion).
For a well-grounded consideration of exports of military equipment, it is also vital to make distinctions in terms of the nature of the exported good, the ways it can be used, and the specific country of destination. For example, a large proportion – 47.2% – went to licences for exports to EU/NATO and NATO-equivalent countries – countries to which, according to the Federal Government’s “Political Principles”, the export of military equipment is not normally subject to restriction.
All exports of military equipment are subject to a licence, which is only issued following detailed scrutiny of each case. The German government pays particular attention to ensuring that the goods will not be misused to commit human rights violations or to exacerbate a crisis. Decisions on licences for exports of military equipment are primarily based on foreign and security policy considerations, and not on commercial or labour-market interests.
For exports of military equipment, there are no simple solutions, and certainly no “black and white” decisions. Instead, it makes sense to look at the precise circumstances. For example, Germany delivers military equipment to other countries, e.g. to protect coastal waters or to combat terrorism. Also, Germany is integrated into international security structures and has entered into Alliance commitments. Legitimate security policy and Alliance policy interests can therefore justify the export of military equipment and war weapons.
The German government has always pursued a highly responsible export control policy for “dual use goods”, i.e. goods which can be used both for civilian and military purposes; there is a basic cross-party political consensus on this. The same applies to the export of surveillance technology, which can be misused to violate human rights. In response to an initiative of the Economic Affairs Ministry, the German government has introduced additional national controls extending beyond the Wassenaar Agreement.