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EU arms embargo on Egypt

In the summer of 2013 political violence in Egypt escalated. In the second week of August hundreds of people were killed, many during operations by the Egyptian security forces.

On 21 August 2013 the EU Foreign Affairs Council, declaring, that the actions of the Egyptian security forces were disproportionate, announced that EU member states had agreed (a) to suspend licences for export to Egypt of any equipment which might be used for internal repression and (b) to reassess export licences for military equipment and review their security assistance to Egypt.

In contrast to most other EU restrictive measures related to the export of arms, the Council did not issue a decision or a regulation. The partial arms embargo is therefore not legally binding but is solely a political commitment.

The Council imposed no time limits on the restrictions, nor did it clarify the definition of 'suspension' or 'equipment, which might be used for internal repression'. The latter can be assumed to include certain types of arms and military equipment, such as small arms and armoured vehicles of the types used by the Egyptian security forces during the deadly violence in August 2013. However, it could also include other items that are not covered by the EU definition of 'arms and military equipment' as described in the EU Common Military List, for example those included in the definition of 'equipment which can be used for internal repression' issued in relation to EU sanctions on Belarus.

The Council Conclusions of 21 August 2013 were reconfirmed on 10 February 2014. The Conclusions have not been amended or repealed and remain valid. However the status and scope of the measures have become increasingly unclear. Since 2014 several EU member states have supplied significant numbers of major and small arms to Egypt and signed large contracts for further deliveries.

Last updated on
Embargo type: EU embargoes
Entry into force:
Establishing document: EU agreement