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02:47 PM, August 23, 2013
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European Union (EU) Nations have decided to suspend export licenses of military equipment and technology to Egypt which might be used for internal repression. The decision comes days after the U.S. decided to put on hold delivery of four F-16 fighters and placed ‘under review’ the export of 10 Apache helicopters and 101 Abrams tanks.

“Member states agreed to suspend export licenses to Egypt of any equipment which might be used for internal repression and to reassess export licenses of equipment covered by Common Position 2008/944/CFSP and review their security assistance with Egypt,” according to the conclusions of the EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels earlier this week.

Common Position 2008/944/CFSP defines common rules governing the control of exports of military technology and equipment, but does not provide an exhaustive list of equipment.

“Each member state must look at what kind of equipment is being delivered and what is happening on the ground,” said Maja Kocijancic, a spokesperson for Catherine Ashton, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, who was quoted by Defense News.

Germany has already suspended all export licenses to Egypt indefinitely and reviewing export licenses granted over the past two years. In addition, customs services have been asked not to allow the export of any defense goods to Egypt, even if they have a valid export license.

A spokesman from the German Foreign Office described this as “going further than the EU consensus.” He said the EU’s conclusions were binding but that the language was “not strong.” For example, the phrase “reassess export licenses of equipment” leaves EU member states with “room for interpretation”, as quoted by Defensenews.

Meanwhile, a Lebanon-based defence analyst who did not wish to be quoted said that the EU nations were minor players in the supply of defence hardware to Egypt and this move would have little impact on the Egyptian government’s ability to supress internal strife. The export suspension was intended to placate Israel which has been smarting under EU pressure to hold direct talks with the Palestinians. Israel has voiced concern that the instability in Egypt might have direct impact on its security.

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