By BROOKS TIGNER, BRUSSELS – After years of hesitation about how to regulate its commerce, the EU is preparing to clamp down on exports of cyber-surveillance products and other high-end digital technologies to prevent their use for repressive ends or as re-export to banned third countries. A new vote on 17 January by the European Parliament now moves the EU one step closer to this goal. In its amendments to a Commission proposal, the EP has considerably tightened some of its terminology and thrust, while throwing its full weight behind the proposal’s inclusion of a human rights (HR) “catch-all” clause – essentially a yardstick by which the human rights credentials of the importing country must be assessed by the exporting EU member state. “The HR clause allows each member state to define new items and, if no opposition from other [EU members], it will apply to all,” Klaus Buchner, German Green member of the European Parliament who led the amendments, told reporters prior to the vote. However, this and other hoped-for changes approved by the EP during plenary vote suffer a potentially fatal structural flaw in that..
Tough political talks lie ahead between European Parliament and Council over rules and financing of EU’s future defence fund
By BROOKS TIGNER, BRUSSELS – The European Commission’s June 2017 proposal to create a European Defence Fund splits into two parts: a defence research “window” and one for capability development known as the European Defence Industrial Development Programme, or EDIDP. The latter would enable the EU to co-finance with national governments the pre-acquisition costs of testing, prototyping and demonstration for developing defence and dual-use capabilities. While few policymakers contest the research window’s rules and proposed budget of EUR 500 million per year starting in 2021, there are growing concerns within the European Parliament about the fairness of the EDIDP’s tentative structure and, moreover, how to fund its preliminary two-year budget of 500 million euros for 2019-2020. At issue are...