Europe’s arms trade numbers and UK’s special relationship with Saudi Arabia

Emanuele Midolo
Dec 15, 2015 · 2 min read

The European Parliament has released an infographic showing the numbers of EU arms exports in 2013.

Profits for almost €34 billion have been obtained through weapons trade, €10.7 billion of which within the EU, while €25.9 billion is outside the union.

Half of these weapons were sold to the Middle East and North America, the two accounting for 49% of the total trade. The Middle East was the top non-EU destination, generating €7.7 billion in profit.

The figures have been obtained through the 16th Annual Report, published last March by the European Council. The report defines “common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment”.

EU’s top three exporters are France (9.5 billion), Germany (5.8) and UK (5.2). They account for 56% of all European sales.

Seventy-nine percent of arms sold by the UK were exported outside the EU, mostly to Saudi Arabia - the second country destination after the United States.

But these stats are destined to increase, as the UK recently signed 37 arms export licences for weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia.

According to a research by the charity “Campaign Against Arms Trade”, the UK has licensed €5.5 billion (£4bn) of arms sales to the Saudis since David Cameron’s election in 2010.

Map: CIA Factbook

A recent investigation, also revealed the “increasingly close relationship” between the UK and the Saudi kingdom. “UK business want to capitalise on the fragile situation in the Middle East”, wrote The Guardian.

Saudi Arabia is currently military involved in Yemen’s civil war. Since the conflict began, in March 2015, Amnesty International repeatedly accused the Saudi Kingdom of war crimes.

*Click here for the original infographic.

Emanuele Midolo

Written by

Former editor in chief @agoravoxitalia Investigative journalism trainee @CityUniLondon