In an August 3 statement, the European Union (EU) welcomed the joint declaration by 13 European states to "align themselves to the criteria and principles" of the recently approved (June 8) EU code of conduct on arms exports. Under the code's eight general criteria, EU members pledged to deny arms exports to states that may use the weapons for internal repression or aggressively against other states and to consider an importer's human rights record before approving an arms sale.
Of the 13 non-EU states (Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia), all but Iceland and Norway have applied for EU membership; the declaration enables these states to align their arms export policies with those of the EU. Four of the 13, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), ranked among the top thirty arms suppliers for the period 1993–1997: the Czech Republic (13th), Norway (21st), Poland (22nd) and Slovakia (24th).The 13 states declared that the non-legally binding code would "guide them in their national export control policies." However, they will not take part in the key operative provisions of the code, such as circulating notices of arms export denials and consulting with other states over controversial sales. EU countries want the notification process to remain limited to protect sensitive information.