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France slows down on the transparency of exports of civilian and military goods

Franco-Egyptian cooperation in the sovereign domain has long been a sensitive subject. While the media information Disclose published since November 21 call into question its military intelligence component, it is rather its arms exports component that has preoccupied the executive until now. More particularly exports of dual-use goods (BDU), that is to say all this equipment – in particular digital – which allows for example the capture of data, and can be misled by an undemocratic regime like that of Egypt.

The subject took on a particular dimension, in June, with the surprise indictment, in the context of old judicial inquiries opened since 2013 and 2017, of four senior executives of French companies who sold listening and recording equipment to the Egypt and Libya, in particular for « complicity in torture », following complaints from human rights associations. Cases in which the BDU export control mechanism is heavily singled out and which, a few days after these legal twists, led the executive to a number of commitments. These coincided with the proposals of a report on the « Arms export control » falling at the peak, made six months earlier, in the fall of 2020, carried out by the deputies Michèle Tabarot (LR, Alpes-Maritimes) and Jacques Maire (LRM, Hauts-de-Seine).

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In a press release released on June 21, Matignon thus committed to working on three axes. The first two axes consisted in reviewing,  » as soon as possible « , the control procedures for these BDU exports, in particular the functioning of the interministerial commission for dual-use goods (CIBDU), under the supervision of Bercy, which examines the export licenses for this type of material. The third axis consisted of « Strengthen information in Parliament ». One of the most « Emblematic » of this reform, according to the terms of the press release, was to be the publication, « From 2022 », of a  » Annual Report «  on BDU exports, like that produced each year by the government since 1999 on war materials.

Outcry

But five months later, this iconic measure has given way. To be effective, it would have required a decree. But this one still hasn’t been taken. According to our information, this proposal has in fact raised, since its announcement, an outcry from a number of services concerned. While most of those within the state apparatus who have knowledge of this type of file almost unanimously agree that there is a legally and politically perilous gray area regarding exports. from these BDUs to third countries, the transparency that such a report would have generated was deemed inappropriate by some.

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