The European Community supported Britain during the Falklands War

27 February 2020
What was claimed

The EU did not help Britain during the Falklands War, and instead sent weapons to Argentina.

Our verdict

This is not true. The EC (the predecessor of the EU) applied an arms embargo and an import ban on Argentina.

“37 years ago, During the Falklands War did the EU help us NO they were openly sending Weapons to our AGGRESSOR never forget that” – Facebook post, 31 January 2020

It is not true that the EU failed to help the UK in the Falklands War, or that it sent weapons to Argentina during the conflict. The European Union did not exist as an organisation at the time, but its predecessor organisation, the European Community (EC), imposed both an arms embargo and a ban on Argentine imports.

The Bulletin of the European Communities from 1982 records that the EC “demanded an immediate cessation of hostilities and an immediate withdrawal of all Argentine forces from the Falkland Islands” and that it had imposed “a total ban on exports of arms and military equipment to Argentina”.

In a speech to Parliament in April 1982, when British forces were on their way to the islands, the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher announced that the UK government had asked its allies to put economic pressure against Argentina, and “achieved a heartening degree of success”.

“The most significant measure,” Mrs Thatcher said, “has been the decision of our nine partners in the European Community to join us not just in an arms embargo but also in stopping all imports from Argentina.

“This is a very important step, unprecedented in its scope and the rapidity of the decision... I should like warmly to thank our European partners for rallying to our support. It was an effective demonstration of Community solidarity.”

The post may refer to the fact that Argentina had bought several Exocet missiles from France before the war started. But it’s not correct to say that France, or any other EC country, sold Argentina weapons during the war.

There have been reports that a French technical team remained in Argentina, where they allegedly helped to repair three missile launchers. If so, the former chief of staff of the DGSE, the French foreign intelligence service, told the BBC that this would be “bordering on an act of treason”. However he also told the BBC that one of the team members was a spy, sharing information about the Argentine forces.

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