See also: Sanctions on Russia and Belarus regarding the Ukraine war
As mentioned above, EU dual-use export controls exist to prevent the undesired accumulation of conventional military items and the proliferation of nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological weapons, also known as Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), and their delivery systems such as missiles and drones. In addition EU dual-use Regulation of public security or human rights concerns apply. Since dual-use items are predominantly used for civilian purposes, their potential for abuse is often not apparent at first glance.
The aim is NOT to sensor research but ensure responsible quality research with no unwanted security related abuse of the research. Everyone, natural or legal person, has the legal obligation, when dealing with dual-use items, to comply with the relevant laws and regulations. These legal obligations are not identical to (but may overlap with) ethical motivations or self-restriction that exist to prevent or mitigate the risks and potential damage which may be caused by malicious use of research involving dual-use items.
In research it is advisable to assess if export control regulations apply to your research already when starting a research project. Please consider the following questions:
- Are you conducting research on dual use, military or defense items, or are you developing items connected to these?
- Does your research have potential end usage in military or terrorism?
- Could your research be used to harm human rights?
Next we shall go through several question as ways to identify the cases where you should ask for assistance in dual-use or export control issues.
Q1. Are your research outcomes likely to fall under the export control categories of fields of research?
Research disciplines within Science, Technology and Engineering are more likely to be subject to dual-use export controls than academic activities in Humanities, Social Sciences and Economics. The generalized list can be found below. In each category shown, there are more detailed lists available. Export control does not automatically apply to all research belonging to a category.
- Category 0 -Nuclear materials, facilities and equipment
- Category 1 -Special materials and related equipment
- Category 2 -Materials processing
- Category 3 -Electronics
- Category 4 -Computers
- Category 5 -Telecommunications and Information security
- Category 6 -Sensors and Lasers
- Category 7 -Navigation and Avionics
- Category 8 –Maritime
- Category 9 -Aerospace and Propulsion
Annex I to the EU dual-use Regulation contains the EU list of dual-use items. All items in Annex I to the EU dual-use Regulation require a licence for exporting outside customs territory of the Union. Annex IV to the EU dual-use Regulation is a small subset of Annex I and contains more sensitive items that require a license also for intra-EU transfers.
Nota that the list is updated annually
The following topics are examples of research that could trigger dual-use export controls:
- changing the host spectrum of Lumpy skin disease virus to include human reservoirs;
- multispectral imaging camera sensors for data collection of crops;
- laser-based next-generation uranium enrichment technology as a potential alternative for the industrial enrichment that involves gaseous uranium in centrifuges;
- 3D printing of energetic materials;
- prototype drone with spraying system for combatting Eastern equine encephalitis virus;
- autonomous scientific underwater vessel that collects data automatically in deep sea regions.
Examples of what can be considered as exports and re-exports
- Emailing report to person in Singapore
- Emailing report in an non-encrypted manner
- Uploading report to server accessible from abroad without effective access controls
- Sending password to recipient abroad for accessing server not otherwise accessible from abroad
- Uploading highly sensitive technology to server located abroad regardless of access controls and encryption (EU-Mil, some EU-DU items, incl. nuclear)
- Sharing research results with visiting foreign professor (US-Mil., US-DU Items), depending on circumstances
- Providing specialized training to foreign graduate student (US-Mil. and US-DU Items ), depending on circumstances
- Publishing report
ref: A. Pursiainen (2021) Kansainväliset pakotteet ja vientivalvonta, Alma Talent Helsinki
The classification of dual-use items is based on objective technical criteria. Whenever you doubt that your research might belong to any of the items listed, ask help from your schools technical service contact person to interpret the list. See contact details below.
Note that dual-use items are generally distinct from military items. Military items are commodities (such as systems, equipment, components, materials, software or technology) that are in most parts specially designed or modified for military use. "Controlled military items are defined in the EU Common Military List, which is available at https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52020XG0313(07)
The United States Export Administration Regulations (EAR) contains a similar list of controlled dual-use items, known as the Commerce Control List (CCL). Since both lists draw from the same sources, such as the Wassenaar Arrangement, the are largely identical in content. There are, however, some differences: in particular, the United States has unilaterally extended export controls to certain items that would not be controlled under the EU regulation. If your research involves inputs that are of US-origin (such as non-public information received from a US research facility), you may need to consider both EU and US export control regulations in assessing needs for export licenses and other restrictios. For instance, the disclosure of sensitive US technology within Finland, even within the same university, to an individual who is not a permanent resident in Finland, may be considered an 'export'.
The United States also maintains controls on military items, including technology specially designed for a military purpose. These controls can be found in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which contains list of controlled items known as the United States Munitions List (USML), which resembles the EU Common Military List. The United States maintans strict and extensive controls and restrictions on the dissemination and disclosure of all US-origin military technology
Q2. Do you conduct basic or applied research?
The applicability of dual-use and export control regulations depend on the levels of research and technology involved. The concept of technology in this context is defined as:
"Technology" means specific information necessary for the "development", "production" or "use" of goods. This information takes the form of "technical data" or "technical assistance".
- Technical data may take forms such as blueprints, plans, diagrams, models, formulae, tables, engineering designs and specifications, manuals and instructions written or recorded on other media or devices such as disk, tape, read-only memories.
- Technical assistance may take forms such as instructions, skills, training, working knowledge and consulting services and may involve the transfer of ‘technical data’.
Whenever conducting research that is defined as applied or experimental research check if dual-use or export control regulations apply. OECD definitions for applied and experimental research are:
- Applied research is original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge. It is, however, directed primarily towards a specific, practical aim or objective. -- The results of applied research are intended primarily to be valid for possible applications to products, operations, methods or systems. Applied research gives operational form to ideas. The applications of the knowledge derived can be protected by intellectual property instruments, including secrecy.
- Experimental development is systematic work, drawing on knowledge gained from research and practical experience and producing additional knowledge, which is directed to producing new products or processes or to improving existing products or processes.
Dual-use regulations do not apply to:
- “Technology" that is the result from “basic scientific research”
- Basic scientific research means experimental or theoretical work undertaken principally to acquire new knowledge of the fundamental principles of phenomena or observable facts, not primarily directed towards a specific practical aim or objective.
- Basic scientific research can be pure or oriented. OECD statistical definitions:
- Basic Research: ”Pure basic research is carried out for the advancement of knowledge, without seeking economic or social benefits or making an active effort to apply the results to practical problems or to transfer the results to sectors responsible for their application.”
- Oriented basic research: ”Oriented basic research is carried out with the expectation that it will produce a broad base of knowledge likely to form the basis of the solution to recognized or expected current or future problems or possibilities.”
- “Technology” that is already “in the public domain”
- In the public domain means "technology" or "software" which has been made available without restrictions upon its further dissemination (copyright restrictions do not remove "technology" or "software" from being "in the public domain").
- The minimum necessary information for patent applications (except for nuclear materials, facilities and equipment).
- Technology readiness levels 1 and 2.
In technology readiness levels 3 and 4 it is advisable to check if dual-use regulations apply. In levels below 4 dual-use regulations might apply depending on the area of the research (see Q1 above).
Technology readiness levels (TRL)
TRL 1 – basic principles observed
TRL 2 – technology concept formulated
TRL 3 – experimental proof of concept
TRL 4 – technology validated in lab
TRL 5 – technology validated in relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
TRL 6 – technology demonstrated in relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
TRL 7 – system prototype demonstration in operational environment
TRL 8 – system complete and qualified
TRL 9 – actual system proven in operational environment (competitive manufacturing in the case of key enabling technologies; or in space)
For example If these conditions apply it is NOT basic research
A jointly funded commissioned research project, where you have agreed with the (company) partner on confidentiality, the commissioner has the right to review publications prior to publishing and the aimed outcomes are /or are close to TRL3.
As noted earlier, the classification of dual-use items is based on objective technical criteria, and the end-use and end-user do not play a role in the technical classification. Accordingly, it is irrelevant for the classification and for the existence of the licensing requirement whether the item is to be used exclusively for civilian purposes or whether a military use is intended. However, the end-use and involved parties (partners, funder etc.) play an essential role in the question of eligibility for license approval. Next we shall look into this in more detail (Q3-Q6).
Q3. Are we sharing export controlled technologies among different researchers with different nationalities?
Export control regulations may sometimes impose export license requirements even on the disclosure of sensitive information between individuals of different nationalities within the same country. In particular, the disclosure of controlled US-origin technology in Finland to an individual who is not a permanent resident or national here may be restricted, depending on the classification of the technology, the nationalities involved, and a range of other circumstances. It is important to identify situations where this may be the case, so that you can ensure you comply with export control regulations while respecting the fundamental principles of non-discrimination and equal treatment. If you are planning research activities that are likely to involve both controlled dual-use or military technology and non-EU personnel, you should check with your school's legal counsel if any additional requirements must be met, as early on as possible.
Q4. Are we supplying outputs to restricted end-users or end-uses?
Export control and sanctions regulations restrict the supply of goods and research outputs to certain end-users and end-uses regardless of the nature of the outputs.
In particular, EU and US sanctions regulations prohibit almost all kinds of co-operation with individuals and entities subject to sanctions. These include those individuals and entities that are specially designated on sanctions lists maintained by the EU and the US, but also those that are owned or controlled by them - for instance, subsidiaries of sanctioned company.
The Consolidated EU Sanctions list can be found her: Restrictive measures (sanctions) | European Commission (europa.eu)
The US has published a search engine for its sanctions list here: Sanctions List Search (treas.gov)
Additionally, you should always be cautious (regardless of the technology involved), if your partner (such as a collaborating institution or a customer) is located in a sanctioned country or if you have concerns that the project might contribute the the dissemination of WMDs or to military capabilities in sensitive countries.
In practice, academic publications or patent applications very seldom cause problems, because both are written in a more abstract level. However, it is advisable to always question who are the end users and what might be the end use of research outcomes.
US expanded foreign direct product rule (Direct Product Guidelines (doc.gov), . How to avoid problems
The process to follow:
- When preparing the project with the company, if you suspect that the project's outcomes fall under expert control or sanction regulations, contact school's technology manager (see contact persons below) to jointly check the details in relations to lists of technologies under regulations.
- Sometimes you may make modifications in the project plan, if this is not fitting the aims, then proceed to step 3.
- Permission is sought from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs if needed. Schools lawyer (see contact persons below) will provide help in preparing e.g. export permit applications.
- These considerations must be done case-by-case, as we cannot make a prior list of potentially susceptible technologies or research areas -- such a list would be too wide. (links to current list can be found above (Q1) and below - remember that e.g. EU lists are updated annually)
Q5. Do I have external funding?
The funding source bears some information on the applicability of the research. Public funding is typical for basic research. Industrial funding can imply that the research has practical applications.
Also the public funders are requiring more and more. The EU grants require declaration with export regulations (dual use). In addition, security issues will be checked systematically in Horizon Europe proposals and might trigger security scrutiny.
For more information see
If you answered yes to any of these questions Q1-Q6, please contact the technology services of your school and the school lawyer, please see below for contact details.