New European legislation adopted to effectively fight illegal arms trafficking

The European Council has adopted a new legislation which sets up stronger regulations to combat trafficking of firearms. In addition, the new regulation improves the tracing and control of imports and exports of civilian firearms from and to the EU territory.

The new EU legislation adopted by the Council is aimed at effectively fighting illegal arms trafficking through stronger rules for exports and imports of firearms and improving traceability. In particular, the Regulation sets up simplified procedures for temporary export, import and transit of small numbers of firearms for ‘verifiable lawful purposes’, such as recreational, repair or exhibition, in order to avoid unnecessary administrative burdens.

Furthermore, the tracing and control of imports and exports of civilian firearms from and to the EU territory (firearms intended for military purposes are governed by other rules) is improved thanks to the new regulation. Exports of firearms will be subject to export authorisations, containing the necessary information to trace them, including the country of origin, the country of export, the final recipient and a description of the quantity of the firearms and related items. The European Parliament already asked for more transparency on exports of arms in April 2011.

The Regulation adopted addresses trade and transfers with countries outside the EU, thereby transposing the provisions of Article 10 of the UN Firearms Protocol (UNFP) on ‘General requirements for export, import and transit licensing or authorization systems’. It applies to firearms, their parts and essential components and ammunition for civilian use.