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European Parliament recommends that Council of Ministers supports action on depleted uranium at 2010 General Assembly.

The European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee has urged Europe's Council of Ministers - the principal decision-making institution on Security and Foreign Policy matters of the European Union - to support EU work towards controls on depleted uranium weapons at the United Nations 65th Session this year.
7 June 2010 - ICBUW

The Council of Ministers is the principal decision-making institution of the European Union (EU) on Security and Foreign Policy matters. It is one of the two legislative bodies in the EU, the other being the European Parliament and is composed of twenty-seven national ministers.

In a recent report to the Council entitled European Parliament recommendation to the Council of 25 March 2010 on the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (P7_TA-PROV(2010)0084) http://bit.ly/bmzn0o, the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee included the following text:

v) to underline the need for effective arms control, including small arms and ammunitions containing depleted uranium, and to exercise its influence in support of wider, more practical and effective disarmament efforts and measures; to stress the need for full implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), and the Anti-Personnel Mines Convention (APMC), underlining at the same time the need for further development of the international regime against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,

The recommendations came two weeks after MEPs amended the Parliament's 2010 report on Implementation of the European Security Strategy (ESS) and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) (P7_TA(2010)0061) http://bit.ly/b3zcLO to include depleted uranium and other disarmament issues. MEPs requested that a clause be added to cover wider disarmament efforts and in doing so called for a total ban on uranium weapons. This is the first time that the Parliament has made such a call. Previous resolutions have supported a moratorium leading to a ban should there be sufficient evidence of harm.

56. Reiterates its full support for wider disarmament and a total ban on weapons, such as chemical and biological weapons, antipersonnel mines, cluster and depleted uranium munitions, that cause great suffering to civilians; urges, therefore, enhanced multilateral efforts to secure full implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), the Anti-Personnel Mines Convention (APMC) and the further development of the international regime against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; welcomes, in this regard, the commitments undertaken by all EU Member States with the adoption of the EU Common Position on Arms Exports, as well as the provision of Article 28B(1) of the Lisbon Treaty, which entrusts joint disarmament operations to the EU;

Although both European Parliament resolutions are not binding, they are significant. The statements offer a moral mandate for action to EU member states on behalf of MEPs and their electors. ICBUW anticipates that a third resolution on depleted uranium will be tabled, and has recently published a discussion paper in the hope of inspiring debate on the issue: http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/docs/130.pdf

Arnaud Danjean MEP who authored the report on the ESS and CSDP, which was later amended by MEPs to include depleted uranium said: "The aim of this Report is not so much to fix a doctrine as to deliver a roadmap, which will evolve, for the new institutions currently being set up, who have to learn to work together to make the EU credible, efficient and visible in the area of security and defence. This political ambition is not excessive - it corresponds to a need, for our continent, to work for its own security but also to contribute to stability in the world."

The new institutions in question were created by the Lisbon treaty, which entered force last year. The treaty created a new EU diplomatic core and expanded the power of the EU's High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR). The HR is the main co-ordinator and representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) within the EU. The position is currently held by Catherine Ashton and will be backed up by the European External Action Service - the new EU diplomatic service.

At present it is unclear to what extent the MEP's calls for action on depleted uranium weapons will be heeded by either the Council, the High Representative or her new diplomats.