Arms export policy

Pistols in the showcase of a museum

The Netherlands limits the export of weapons and other military goods, such as tear gas and (parts of) tanks. Companies and individuals are allowed to export such goods only if they are licensed to do so. In 2015 the Netherlands exported over 870 million euros worth of military goods to other EU Member States and NATO partners, for instance. This can be read in the report "The Netherlands arms export policy in 2015".

Dual use

Goods that appear on two lists drawn up by the European Union require an export license. These lists are based on the Wassenaar Arrangement, a treaty concluded in 1995 by parties including the EU, the United States and Russia. One list contains military goods and the other the so-called dual-use goods. Dual-use goods are not initially intended for military use, but can in fact be adapted to serve military purposes, for instance if they fall into the wrong hands. Think of chemicals that can also be used to produce weapons.

Intercom system

At the request of the House of Representatives, minister Ploumen explored the possibility of putting the SOTAS intercom system on the list, because military buyers showed interest in this system. According to the minister this is not possible, because SOTAS is based on freely available technology, which can be used in many other sectors as well.


All EU Member States will test arms export licence applications against eight criteria. In the countries to which arms are exported, no tensions or armed conflicts must occur, for instance. Moreover, the human rights have to be respected. The Netherlands is committed to further harmonise the European arms export policy, and emphasised earlier this year at European level the importance of the exchange of information about arms export fraud.