In my hearing before the European Parliament I committed to make the EU trade policy more responsible towards respecting EU fundamental values. This promise was spelled out in the 'Trade for All' communication adopted in October 2015, with a reference to making trade an instrument to protect Human Rights in the world.
This week we have delivered, amending the EU regulation that limits exports of products used for capital punishment and torture. The original legislation from 2005 was updated in 2011 to ban the export of medicinal products to be used in lethal injections. After several years implementing the regulation, it was time to further tighten the system and make it even more difficult to trade on these products. Following the excellent report by MEP Marietje Schaake, I pushed for a revised Commission proposal, more ambitious and effective, in line with our common objective of fighting against the dead penalty and torture worldwide. Off course there is still some technical work to di and thereafter the agreement has to be confirmed by Council and EP plenary. A trialogue we have agreed to the following:
1- a fast-track procedure to quickly update the list of prohibited products. Technology evolves and unfortunately new products that could be used to violate human rights are put in the market. Ordinary law-making procedures do not allow to catch-up. The new procedure agreed, will allow the Commission to propose a speedy ban on export of such new products.
2- Transit of prohibited products will not be allowed. The existing legislation was effectively restricting the export of capital punishment and torture products to countries outside the EU. But nothing was said for the same products originating in a non-EU country and with destination to a third country. Some of these products were shipped through EU ports, airports in transit. This will not be allowed anymore, making trade of these goods more difficult, more expensive, or maybe not happening.
3- The existing legislation banned the export of these products but did not cover the possibility of these products being offered for sale or presented in trade fairs. It was contradicting to see in trade fairs celebrated in Europe products used for torture, or offered for sale through catalogues, or advertised in newspapers and websites, for later export from third countries. Simply shocking. The new regulation will ban displaying these instruments in trade fairs and general advertising.
4- Brokers engaged in the trade of these products, or providing some technical assistance for installation, repair, maintenance of these equipment will not be possible for products covered under the regulation.
A major improvement to the existing regulation. Unfortunately these new measures will not stop those who violate human rights, who execute or torture human being but least, we will make it more difficult, more expensive, and more important, remind them that Europeans condemn these practices.