Exclusive! Franco-German text on defence export


Defencechronicles publishes the text on the franco-German agreement on export. Both governments have give their green light to the text.



« De minimis » rules applies to defence products, items, materials listed in the common military list, and to be integrated into another defence system, with exception of item specified in the annex to these principles.


The contracting parties shall implement a “de minimis” rule with a single 20% threshold of the value of exported or transferred integrated system; this does not include maintenance, spare parts, training and repairs.


The contracting parties shall review the implementation of the agreement and its % threshold regularly, as well as on exceptional basis in the framework of the joint permanent body on export controls.


When the share of a contracting party’s national defence related product does not exceed the threshold, the transferring contracting party shall issue the respective transfer or export authorization without delay, except on an exceptional basis where its direct interests or national security are compromised.


In case, the “de minimis” rule applies:


  • The contracting party from which the final systems is transferred or exported, is solely in charge of evaluating the compliance with the contracting parties common international or EU commitments;


  • No end-user certificate and non re-exportation certificate are required along with the French-German transfer licence. A certificate of integration of the products into the final system may be requested by the relevant contracting party.


  • Maintenance activities, spare parts, training, repairs of items exported or transferred under the “de minimis” shall be treated as “ de minimis” export or transfer licensing requests. The share of defence products related products from a contracting party in a final system transferred or exported is established as follows: 
  • The recipient company, shall it wish to benefit from the “de minimis” principles, communicates to its national export control authority and to its suppliers, the share of defence related products from other contracting party in its final system transferred or exported; 
  • The supplier company, shall it wish to benefit from “de minimis” rules, communicates to its national export control authority the share of national defence related products to be incorporated in the final system;


  • A contracting company party’s licensing authority may request from its counterpart to confirm the information given by the recipient company at any time.

Annex: negotiated list



Smooth-bore weapons with a a caliber of less than 20mm, other arms and automatic weapons with a caliber of 12.7mm (caliber 0,50 inches) or less:

1.       Machine gun

2.       Sub-machine gun

3.       Fully automatic rifles with specially designed for military use

CL2 Smooth-bore weapons with  caliber of 20mm or more, other weapons or armament with a caliber greater than 12.7mm (caliber 0,50 inches):

4.       Guns

5.       Howitzers

6.       Cannon

7.       Mortars

8.       Anti-tank weapons

9.       Launchers of lethal projectiles

10.    Rifles

11.    Recoilless rifles

12.    Smooth-bore weapons

CL3 Ammunition and items listed below:

13.    Ammunition for weapons listed in CL1&2

14.    Separate propelling charges and projectiles for weapons specified by 5,6 or 7,

15.    Separate fuzes for weapons specified by 5, 6, 7 or 11


CL4 Bombs, torpedoes, rockets, missiles, other explosive devices and charges and items listed  below:

16.    Bombs

17.    Torpedoes;

18.    Grenades

19.    Rocket

20.    Mines

21.    Missiles

22.    Depth charges

23.    Demolition charges-kits  specially designed for military use

24.    Fuzes for weapons specified in 16 to 20, 22, 23

25.    Warheads and homing seekers for weapons specified in 17 or 19;

26.    Propulsion systems for weapons specified in 16 or 19;

27.    Fuzes or homing seekers, warheads and propulsion systems for ground targeting missiles

CL5 Items listed to be integrated into battle tanks

28.    Chassis specially designed for battle tanks

29.    Turrets specially designed for battle tanks


Items listed below to be integrated into military manned aircraft:

30.    Propulsion aero-engines

31.    Complete cells for combat aircraft



At first sight, this text seems to solve all the probelms that enamelled the Franco-German relations for years; the ‘de minimis’ rule is a simple concept, and establishes a clear mechanism to fix any problem that could occur in the defence relations between Paris and Berlin while leaving both countries soverign in a last resort.


All defence experts have however regretted that the threshold is limited to only 20%, a figure which is too low. Key components, sub-systems or systems weigh more than this limit. The CDU, the CSU pleaded for a 30% threshold, a figure more in the line with of a defence system where key parts (defence electronics, for example) are around one third of the value of the whole system. Nobobody will be surprised to hear that the defence expert of the Greens demanded a 5% threshold which would have been more in line with the general policy of Germany in defence exports: restrictive and responsible.


But, the text can not be analysed alone: to have a global picture, You need to read the list. All key and senstive items (components, sub-systems or systems) are EXCLUDED from the ‘de minimis’ rule. After all these exclusions, what is left? A few parts only.


All in all, this agreement is a pure marketing and communication show, and certainly not a courageous and necessary agreement on defence exports. Berlin will pursue its own way: to ban all sensitive countries (at the exception of Algeria and Egypt, two true partners of Germany for decades, albeit being corrupt and unstable ) and to focus only on NATO or NATO-like countries.


If this market is the traditionnal one of its companies, this is not the case for French counterparts (and, sometimes, rivals) more focused on sensitive countries: Middle East, Gulf, and Asian countries.


The rub in all this matter is that Paris and Berlin do not pursue the same diplomacy ouside of Europe. The defence export is therefore a collateral damage of their difference in geopolitics.

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