Responsible internationalisation – Export control and sanctions compliance at Aalto University
An important aspect of responsible internationalisation is to comply with export control regulations and sanctions. The relevant regulations are the Finnish national, EU and US export regulations (EAR and ITAR) and EU and US sanctions.
|Export controls restrict the transfer of high technology to foreign destinations with the aim of preventing conflict, human rights abuses, weapons of mass destruction and terrorism or cyber security threats.||Sanctions are legal measures that restrict or interrupt, for example, economic or commercial activities with targeted regimes or groups.|
|Specific information necessary for the development, production or use of goods. This information takes the form of technical data or technical assistance||Items, including software and technology, which can be used for both civil and military purposes and includes items which can be used for the design, development, production or use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or their means of delivery, including all items which can be used for both non-explosive uses and assisting in any way in the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices|
Export controls apply to transmission, sharing or transfer of regulated items -- such as research outcomes, knowledge created, or courses offered with content under regulations -- to foreign countries, persons or entities. The controls also apply to information and software. Violations of these regulations may lead to criminal or monetary penalties or to reputation problems. These regulations are based on international control arrangements put in place to curtail terrorism and to support human rights. The importance of export control and dual use has grown and the national and international regulations have been updated recently. The regulations apply to all Aalto activities. In EU funding the emphasis is on compliance with dual-use regulations.
The regulations apply to certain products or items, certain countries, certain end users, or certain end usages. They also apply to knowledge in general, for example publications and teaching. Typically, export controls and sanctions focus on:
- Items and their components that have been designed for military use (weapons).
- Dual-use items, i.e. non-military items that can be modified to be used for military purposes.
- Items related to cyber security or espionage
- Sanctions imposed on countries and their citizens and other entities.
How export control may affect you
Export control applies to several university activities. In the following we will look in more detail into some of them.
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, the provisions of the EU Dual-Use Regulation on public security or human rights concerns also 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 censor or hinder research but to ensure responsible high-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.
When conducting research it is advisable to assess weather 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 defence items, or are you developing items linked to these uses ?
- Does your research have potential end usage in military operations or terrorism?
- Could your research be used to abuse human rights?
Next we will 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?
Research disciplines within the fiedl of science, technology and engineering are more likely to be subject to dual-use export controls than academic activities in the fiedls of 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.
Annex I to the EU dual-use Regulation contains the EU list of dual-use items. A license is required for the export of all items listed in in Annex I outside the 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.
Note that the list is updated annually
The following topics are examples of research that could trigger dual-use export controls:
Examples of what can be considered as exports and re-exports
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 suspect that your research may fall under the scope of the list, ask the technical service contact person of your school to help you to interpret the list. See their 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 restrictions. 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 in the Dual-Use regulation as follows (here the quotation marks mean that the concepts in question have a specific definition):
'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 or if the technology can be considered as basic research. At the levels higher than 4 dual-use regulations might apply depending on the area of the research (see Q1 above).
Technology readiness levels (TRL)
For example, if these conditions apply your research 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 at the level TRL 3 or close to it.
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 will look into this in more detail (Q3 - Q6).
Q3. Are you 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 citizen 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 you 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, the subsidiaries of sanctioned company.
The Consolidated EU Sanctions list can be found here: 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 to 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 rules: 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 will fall under export control or sanction regulations, contact school's technology manager (see contact persons below) to jointly check the details of the lists of controlled technologies.
- Sometimes you may need to make modifications in the project plan, if this cannot be done without compromising the aims of the project then proceed to step 3.
- Seek permission from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs if needed. The school lawyer (see the contact persons below) can help you prepare 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 the current lists can be found above (Q1) and below - remember that e.g. the EU lists are updated annually.)
Q5. Do you 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.
In addition, the public bodies that provide funding nowadays require more and more. The recipients of EU funding are required to provide a declaration of compliance with export regulations (dual use). In addition, any potential security issues to Horizon Europe proposals will be checked systematically and might trigger a security scrutiny.
- How to make an ethics self-assessment in research projects - Aalto support and guidelines | Aalto University
If you answered yes to any of these questions Q1 - Q6, please contact the technical services of your school and the school lawyer, please see below for contact details.
A licence is required for exporting controlled dual-use technology to destinations and recipients located outside the European Union. This includes travelling with export - controlled information (for example technical information related to controlled semiconductors), and disclosing controlled information across borders through online training courses, emails, or file transfers. Please check the previous section on 'Research' for more information on how to assess whether the technology you intended to export may subject to restrictions
In practice if the content you share with your students is not publicly available and falls under export control (see the section 'Research' for more clarification) please contact the technology manager of your school (see the contact persons below).
Doctoral programme directors are also advised to evaluate the programme content prior to admitting new students and contact Minna Söderqvist in the cases of applicants whotom export control legislation might apply.
It is good the bear in mind that any sharing of restricted knowledge might be considered as export. More information:
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs serves as the national competent authority for export control in Finland.
European Union guidance:
- Dual-use trade controls - Trade - European Commission (europa.eu)
EU restrictive measures: Restrictive measures (sanctions) | European Commission (europa.eu)
EU sanctions map: https://sanctionsmap.eu/
US legislation to consider
Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)
Summary: what is meant by export or transfer in EU and US legislation
|Export outside EU||
applies to all products and services in the EU export control list
exporting of physical products
virtual transfer of products/services; email; information transfer, uploading to cloud services accessible from abroad
export on memory sticks or computer drives
oral transfer of information to audiences outside the EU
|Export, re-export outside Finland||
applies to the EU defence items and some sensitive dual-use items (see EU lists above) and the US defence items in their export control lists (ITAR) and the US export control list of dual-use items (EAR)
applies to any export or transfer outside Finland ( -physical, transfer vial email, memory sticks description of restricted items on phone to persons outside Finland etc.)
|Transfer in Finland to people who are not Finnish citizens, export or re-export||
applies to defence items in US export control list (ITAR) and US export control list dual use items (EAR) cases where, for example, a Finnish citizen provides access to technical information covered by the EAR to a person who is not a Finnish citizen (this counts as export)
the regulations arestricte r for ITAR items than for EAR items, for example, for the purposes of EAR citizenships is defined as person’s latest citizenship or permanent residency, whereas for the purposes of in ITAR, citizenship covers all citizenships and permanent residencies of a person.
applies to EU regulations on dual-use items transfer of any technical support, service guidelines or knowledge and skills related to items covered by dual-use regulations outside the EU or to a non - EU nationals in the EU
Do not hesitate to ask for help! Please find below the first contact points in each school:
Other, Legal and Research Services
Without responsibility in internationalisation our Purpose, Values and Code of Conduct are at risk
Here we provide support, links and tips on how to work your way through the EU Grants: How to complete your ethics self-assessment – document