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A new European Regulation for the non-EU transfers of "civilian" firearms

On 8 March 2012, the European Union Council has finally adopted a new European legislation that sets the rules and procedures to be followed by Member States on export, import and transit authorizations of firearms for civilian use (such as hunting weapons and sporting weapons), their parts and components, and ammunition, to and from the EU. These new rules therefore only address firearms transfers with non-EU countries. They complement the existing European legislation on civilian firearms and thereby strengthen the fight against illicit trafficking.
The Regulation of the Council has attached a list of firearms and components for which an authorization is required. It stipulates that before authorizing an export, exporting authorities should ensure that the importing State has authorized the transaction and that the country(ies) of transit does (do) no object to the transit on their territory. However simplified procedures are provided for certain transfers, especially for hunters and sport shooters in the course of their activities. The text also provides that before approving an export, Member States shall take into account their international obligations and commitments regarding export control arrangements, the intended end-use, the identified final recipient and the risk of diversion of the weapons.
This new EU regulation doesn’t address the transfers of so called “military” arms and equipment, nor State transfers, and it doesn’t apply to firearms destined for the armed forces or security forces of the Member States. These transactions remain regulated by the European Common Position on the export of military equipment (2008).
This Regulation is aimed at implementing Article 10 of the United Nations Firearms Protocol, and thereby completes its transposition into EU law. The transposition process has already begun with the amendment in 2008 of the European Directive 91/477/EEC on the acquisition, possession and intra-Community transfers of civilian firearms. Adopted in 2001 to complement the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, the Protocol is the only international legally binding instrument dealing with firearms. It was signed by the European Community in 2002 but the EU has yet to ratify it. Once the ratification will be done, the Protocol will then apply directly to all Member States, including those who have signed but not yet ratified (6) and those who have not yet undertaken any measure (3, including France). Belgium has ratified it in 2004.
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Update: 14/03/2012

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