Container about arms exports ; Source: van den Dries

© van den Dries

The Federal Cabinet has adopted the 2015 Military Equipment Export Report. This is the third time that the report can be published before the parliament's summer recess.

Minister Gabriel said: "When it comes to exports of military equipment, it is worth taking a more detailed look at the figures and the products, since the mere figures fluctuate and say little about whether an export licence is problematic, or how problematic it is. What is obvious is that our policy on exports of military equipment - the most stringent, by the way, in German history - is responsible and is based on foreign and security aspects, not on commercial questions. Overall, the value of licences issued in 2015 was at a normal level, and the export of machine guns and other small arms has dropped to the lowest level for 15 years. Our small arms principles and the post-shipment controls in third countries are playing a pioneering role at European and international level, and we are trying to ensure that controls at European level are also as far-reaching as possible."

The total value of the licences for small arms in the first half of 2015 amounted to €32.4 million - a drop of roughly €15 million. The figures for export licences for small arms to third countries also reveal a decline, by approx. €7.1 million to just under €14.5 million. In order to improve the control of small arms, the Federal Government adopted the "Small Arms Principles" on 18 March 2015.These stricter rules aim to significantly reduce the risk of proliferation of small arms. We have also decided to introduce post-shipment controls. During a pilot phase, on-the-spot controls are initially being introduced for government recipients of small arms and light weapons, and of certain firearms (pistols, revolvers and sniper rifles). Germany is a pioneer on this in Europe. These more stringent rules have resulted in the strictest licensing system that Germany has ever had.

In 2015, single-transaction export licences worth €7.86 billion were issued. The rise is largely due to a number of special factors: the licensing of the export to the United Kingdom of four tanker aircraft worth €1.1 billion, and to Israel of a submarine (2003) worth €351 million. And there are also licences from decisions by previous governments, e.g. for tanks worth €1.6 billion to Qatar (2013).

A similar view should also be taken of the provisional figures for the first half of 2016. The proportion of small arms exports is declining once again, from €12.42 million in the first half of 2015 to €11.64 million; of this, licences worth €3.3 million were issued for third countries, but €2.1 million of this amount went to the Kurdish regional government, as a special shipment from Bundeswehr stocks. At €4.029 billion, the licences remain roughly in line with the level of the first half of last year. Once again, special factors come into play, such as the licensing of a frigate to Algeria to protect the country's coast; at €1.035 billion, this accounts for around a quarter of the total value of the licences.