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Combating the trafficking of firearms

New EU legislation adopted by the European Council has given Europe stronger regulations to effectively fight illegal arms trafficking. The legislation establishes requirements for exports, imports and transit licensing, and makes it easier to track weapons.

The illegal firearms’ trade generates about €180 million per year globally. This amount reflects only part of the real threat posed by arms trafficking, which often involves other serious crimes such as drug trafficking, human trafficking and corruption.

Welcoming the adoption in the Council, Commissioner Malmström said: “Trafficking in firearms is a threat to the security of our citizens and is a lucrative business for organised crime. I am therefore particularly glad that the European Parliament and Council has approved the Commission’s proposal to tighten the rules for exports and imports of firearms and to improve traceability. Stronger control of firearms entering or leaving the EU will help us prevent their misuse.”

To avoid unnecessary administrative burdens, 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.

The new legislation improves 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). It brings EU legislation in line with Article 10 of the UN Firearms Protocol, allowing its ratification by the European Union which has been pending since 2002.