Law, College of


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This is an electronic version of an article published in Astropolitics 7:2 (May 2009), pp. 101–134; doi: 10.1080/14777620903094826 Copyright © 2009 Taylor & Francis Group LLC. Used by permission. It is available online at


Abstract This article analyzes the system developed within Europe, more precisely within the European Union through European Community law, to address the security-sensitive issues involved in the export of hardware, software, and knowledge for the purpose of space activities and major space applications. The subject is introduced with reference to the far better known export control developments within the United States, such as those concerning International Traffic in Arms Regulations, and the international understandings under the Missile Technology Control Regime and Wassenaar Arrangement. European Community Regulations for export controls provide for a complex system of balances between national sovereignty and Europe-wide harmonization. This European Community regime, though ultimately still dependent upon individual state’s sovereign controls, establishes an interesting measure of international harmonization in security-sensitive export controls. Although the European Community regime is fraught with many complexities, it manages to avoid some of the pitfalls evident in the United States and international regimes, notably the confusing discussions on discerning weaponry proper from other space items with dual-use potential. This is the result mainly of an approach characterized by a primary intention to harmonize, rather than to apply strict controls per se, resulting in a transparency and consistency that are not only valuable to commercial entrepreneurs, but also to those concerned primarily with the security risks posed by the international space industry. As for the space industry in particular, it is helpful that the European Community regime specifically carves out civil space activities, for example if conducted within the context of the European Space Agency or national space agency activities.