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Summaries of EU Legislation

Defence-related products: rules on transfer within the EU

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Defence-related products: rules on transfer within the EU


Directive 2009/43/EC - simplifying transfers of defence-related products within the EU



Its objective is to eliminate the disparity between EU countries concerning their laws and rules on the transfer of defence-related products (ranging from rifles, through bombs and torpedoes, to submarine and aircraft for military use).

It establishes an authorisation system based on issuing transfer licences to suppliers.

It facilitates the transparent and secure circulation of defence-related products in the EU, thus helping to boost the competitiveness of the EU’s defence sector.


3 types of licences


General licences, issued by an EU country to suppliers established on its territory (provided they comply with the licence conditions) to transfer defence-related products to recipients in another EU country;


Global licences, granted by an EU country (which determines the scope and duration) to suppliers asking to transfer to one or more EU countries; and


Individual licences, which are granted by EU countries to suppliers asking for a single transfer of products to a single recipient.

Obligations of suppliers

EU countries must ensure that suppliers of defence-related products established on their territory:

keep detailed records of their transfers;

inform recipients of the conditions of the licence (i.e. limitations concerning the end-use or export of defence related products); and

inform the competent authority from the EU country from whose territory they wish they transfer products from of their intention of using a General Licence for the first time.

EU countries that are home to recipients of defence-related products under transfer licences must certify that the recipients are responsible in observing the limitations of exporting the products they receive.

The defence-related products to which this directive refers are listed in the annexe to the directive. The European Commission updates this list regularly so that it corresponds with the Common Military List of the European Union.


It entered into force on 30 June 2009. EU countries had to incorporate it in national law by 30 June 2011.


Before this directive, the transfer of defence-related products within the EU was subject to national licensing laws. These differed considerably in terms of procedures, scope and time taken to obtain licences. Consequently, the competitiveness of the European defence sector was stunted, as was the establishment of a genuine European market in defence products.


Directive 2009/43/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 May 2009 simplifying terms and conditions of transfers of defence-related products within the Community (OJ L146, 10.6.2009, pp. 1–36)

The successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2009/43/EC and its Annexes have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

last update 02.12.2015