The European Union operates a system of controls on the export of sensitive items from the member states. Export Controls seek to prevent technologies, materials, chemicals, goods, equipment, information, software or computer programmes, and know-how, being acquired by actors/parties that may use these items for undesirable purposes such as to destabilise governments, threaten national security or human life. In particular, items of military use, or that can be adapted for military use, i.e. dual use (including their constituent parts, or unfinished goods) attract particular attention. There are certain exemptions for basic scientific research and for material that is already in the public domain, but these exceptions or “decontrols” are interpreted very narrowly and need to be considered carefully on a case by case basis as to whether they might apply.
Research Areas Covered by Export Control
Export controls under the relevant legislative frameworks (1-4) comprise licensing requirements for certain sensitive goods, technologies and technical assistance or export restrictions (sanctions) in respect of certain destination countries or end-users. In Ireland, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) is the national competent authority. Its Trade Licensing & Control Unit email@example.com is responsible for administering the export licensing system set out in the relevant Irish and European legislation. Further detailed information is available on the government website (5).
- EU Dual-use Regulation 2021
Before goods are exported or information is transferred, exporters and information brokers have a duty to check whether their actions require prior regulatory approval. Academic freedom principles and/or Open Access related to research output and data does not exempt TUS researchers from complying with Export Controls regulations. The two primary lists that TUS researchers must check are as follows:
The Military Items list:
https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52020XG0313(07)&from=EN. Items on the military list need an export licence to leave Ireland.
The Dual Items list:
https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=OJ:L:2021:206:FULL&from=EN (See annex 1 and categories 0-9). Items on the dual list need an export licence to leave the EU.
What is an Export?
The term ‘export’ covers a wide range of University activities, including for example:
- Speaking at a conference, meeting or seminar outside the EU
- Collaborating with international researchers on research projects
- Overseas researchers who visit TUS and then bring technology/know-how home with them
- Teaching outside the EU in areas relating to dual-use items
- Exporting prototypes, second-hand lab equipment etc.
- Sending information electronically via email or shared servers
- Participating in tele or video meetings
- Academic publications
Dual-use items are largely developed for civilian purposes and their potential for abuse is not always evident at first glance. However, not every research activity involving dual-use items will require an export control licence.
For TUS Researchers to do:
- All staff and researchers should familiarise themselves with the military list and the dual use list (links provided above) and determine whether your research area or activity falls under any of the listed items.
- All researchers are advised to complete our online training on Export Controls provided as a stand-alone module of the Research Integrity training course that is available through the Graduate and Research offices.
- Researchers must notify TUS Research as early as possible (during project planning stages) if there are likely to be any Export Control requirements associated with a project. If this is done at proposal stage, that will allow the PI to structure the project so that it is fully compliant with Export Control requirements.
- Where relevant, researchers will be put in touch with the relevant University authorities, Office VP RDI and/or Risk and Audit committee to advise on necessary steps.
- The EU Commission has recently published their Recommendation 2021/1700 aimed solely at the University sector to provide guidelines on how Universities can comply with export control. TUS is currently reviewing the Export Controls guidelines. Further information will be provided in due course. In the meantime, if you have queries or believe you have an immediate requirement for an Export Control Licence, please contact us at the Graduate Research Offices (firstname.lastname@example.org).