Thursday, 25 October 2018

Ceisteanna (198, 199)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

198. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation further to Parliamentary Question No. 15 of 18 October 2018, if she will clarify that obstacles to the implementation of a presumption of denial policy in regard to the export of arms to Saudi Arabia in the absence of EU sanctions are diplomatic rather than legal and that it is a measure that Ireland has the power to implement independently in the Saudi Arabian case, in view of the provisions of the EU common position in regard to exports to countries in which there is a risk that arms will be used in the commission of serious violations of international law. [44415/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Clare Daly

Ceist:

199. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation further to Parliamentary Question No. 15 of 18 October 2018, if her attention has been drawn to the first joint report of session 2017–19 issued by the UK Parliament's committees on arms export controls which recommended that the UK Government consider implementing a presumption of denial policy in regard to arms exports to countries which have not signed the arms trade treaty or that are on the UK's human rights priority list notwithstanding the fact that EU arms embargoes are not in place in regard to all such countries; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44416/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 198 and 199 together.

Ireland exports a small volume of goods which have a military classification per the EU Common Military List. Each application for an export licence in respect of such goods is subject to a stringent examination on a case-by-case basis. Each application is reviewed against the 8 risk assessment criteria set out in Article 2 of the European Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment. The application is then reviewed against any EU Trade Sanctions that may be in place in respect of the destination country; for example, an arms embargo.

My Department also seeks observations from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in relation to foreign policy considerations that may be pertinent to each licence application. Observations from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provide information on the end destination and the end user, in order to limit the risk of proliferation and the diversion of goods.

The "presumption of denial" is not a legal concept under Irish or EU law. My understanding is that the phrase originated in the US legal system.

Saudi Arabia is not currently subject to EU sanctions. EU sanctions, are a matter for my colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and his EU counterparts on the Foreign Affairs Council.

While there is no legal basis for a formal "presumption of denial" policy in Ireland and, as such a practice could be open to legal challenge, the cumulative effect of the rigorous assessment applied by my Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to all applications for military export licences could be seen as equating in terms of practical outcomes to such a presumption in respect of sensitive destinations such as Saudi Arabia.

Finally, while it is not appropriate for me to comment on proposals arising in other jurisdictions, I note that the proposals in question arose in the context of consideration of distinct foreign and trade policies for the UK outside the EU acquis, i.e. in a post-Brexit scenario.