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EU Bracing for Challenging Implementation of New Export Control Regime

The European Union is bracing for a large workload and host of new “responsibilities” as it prepares to implement its new dual-use export control regime, said Denis Redonnet, the European Commission’s chief trade enforcement officer. Redonnet said the regime will “test” EU agencies and governments and will only succeed with cooperation from industry experts.

“We will need to get prepared for this challenge,” Redonnet said during a Dec. 11 export control forum hosted by the commission. He said the EU “needs to get organized” and better recruit technology experts to help with the regime’s implementation. “It will indeed be a test not only of political resolve but also of policy and technical capacity for European institutions,” he said.

The EU Council and Parliament approved the new export control regime in November, allowing the EU to soon implement a range of updated export control policies, licensing procedures, enforcement methods and industry outreach measures (see 2011100021). Redonnet said the EU still needs to develop a system to pursue outreach with “sub-country jurisdictions, partners and allies” to “promote a level playing field” and harmonize export controls. “That's a fairly sizable agenda going forward,” he said.

The regime was partly designed to allow the EU to better keep up with the export control regimes of allies, including the U.S. Redonnet said foreign export controls are “redefining international trade and international security” and creating unprecedented challenges. “The new regulation that we have put in place can perhaps therefore be an opportunity for the EU to be a player, not the playground, in this area of strategic export controls,” he said.

Redonnet said the EU will likely pursue more export control cooperation with allies through multilateral controls. Aude Jalabert, a trade compliance manager for Infineon Technologies and a member of the European Semiconductor Industry Association, said the semiconductor industry would prefer multilateral controls, especially on emerging technologies. She said the industry is concerned about the U.S. Commerce Department’s November 2018 pre-rule that listed 14 broad categories of emerging technologies for potential export restrictions.

“Many European companies who are dealing with the U.S. would be impacted if the U.S.’s autonomous controls on these new emerging technologies would become a reality,” Jalabert said during the event. “It may be worth continuing this dialogue with the U.S. either at the Wassenaar [Arrangement] or at the bilateral level.” Commerce officials have said they intend to only control narrow slices of those technologies (see 1911070014).

Export control cooperation with the U.S. is “essential and vital,” said Tanja Roeling, the head of export controls for the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “There is definitely agreement that we need to invest and deepen the cooperation in the emerging tech field.” She pointed to the possibility of a “trans-Atlantic tech council,” which would gather a range of allies for discussions on technology controls.

Industry and governments are hoping such a group could be possible under the Joe Biden administration, said Eric Andre Martin, a technology strategy expert at the French Institute of International Relations. Biden is expected to pursue more multilateral policies than has the Trump administration, particularly around export controls (see 2011250054). “There are a lot of discussions going on about the best way to seize the opportunity presented by the new administration,” Martin said. “A trans-Atlantic technology forum could be an entry point to discuss [export controls] in a constructive way.”