A range of commercial products and technologies can be used both for civilian and for military purposes. These are called “dual-use goods”.

Dual-use goods include machine tools, testing and measuring equipment, materials, valves, electronics and a host of other industrial products. Their export is regulated at European level by the Dual-Use Regulation. According to this, the export of these goods and technologies to non-EU countries is subject to controls if they are included on certain lists of products. In the case of military use, under certain conditions the export of other (non-listed) goods may be subject to authorisation and may be prohibited. Here, consideration is particularly given to the potential misuse of an exported product for purposes of internal repression against the population or for military purposes in regions of conflict.

Uniform rules are needed to ensure that there are effective international controls of dual-use goods and common standards. For this reason, 41 countries including Germany have agreed in the “Wassenaar Arrangement” on lists of conventional military equipment and dual-use goods. The EU is responsible for the implementation of the Wassenaar lists in EU law, and it does this via the EC Dual-Use Regulation and a control list contained in Annex I to this Regulation. Implementation of these European rules takes place at national level; the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control is responsible for issuing licences.