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Brussels, 31 May 2010

Commission proposal to adopt Article 10 of the United Nations Firearms Protocol

The European Commission today takes a step closer towards the ratification of the UN Firearms Protocol (UNFP), by proposing to adopt Article 10 of the UNFP. The proposal addresses export authorisation and import and transit measures for firearms for civilian use.

What are the main elements of the proposal?

Article 10 of the UNFP on ‘General requirements for export, import and transit licensing or authorisation systems’ requires ‘each State Party to establish or maintain an effective system of export and import licensing or authorisation, as well as of measures on international transit, for the transfer of firearms, their parts and components and ammunition’.

Article 10 UNFP is based on the principle that firearms and related items should not be transferred between States without the awareness and consent of all States involved. Article 10 UNFP also allows the Parties to adopt simplified procedures for temporary export, import and transit of small numbers of firearms for ‘verifiable lawful purposes’, such as recreational, repair, exhibition.

The proposed regulation applies only to firearms, their parts and essential components and ammunition for civilian use: military weapons are not concerned. Moreover it only addresses trade and transfers with countries outside the EU; transfers of firearms within the Union are regulated by other EU law (Council directive 91/477/EEC as amended by 2008/51/EC).

Why does the EU need this initiative?

Specifically, EU action is needed to complete the process of transposition into Union (formerly Community1) legislation of the provisions of the ‘Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime’ (UNFP).

The present legislative proposal is aimed at transposing the relevant provisions of Article 10 UNFP on ‘General requirements for export, import and transit licensing or authorization systems’.

Have stakeholders been consulted in this process?

Yes. Public and private stakeholders were consulted by means of questionnaires and invitations to meetings addressed to Member States and interested private parties (representatives of European associations of manufacturers of firearms and ammunition for civilian use, those engaged in civil commerce of weapons, hunters, collectors, NGOs, research institutions, etc.). The Commission further created an e-mail account ( for permanent consultation and launched an external study to support the preparation of the Impact Assessment. Moreover, an ‘Inter-Service group’ was established within the Commission.

The Commission has considered the opinions expressed by public and private stakeholders. The proposal is designed to bring about a higher degree of security/effectiveness and efficiency. The combination of the two aspects is also based on the outcomes of the stakeholders’ consultation.

For example, the possibility of hunters/sport shooters using the European Firearms Pass and an official invitation to an event outside the EU was also suggested and is part of the proposal. Moreover, the proposal takes into account the need for simplified measures for temporary export, mitigation of the possible negative impact of the transit measures required by the UN Firearms Protocol by making use of tacit consent, under certain conditions the use of multiple authorisations for multiple shipments and the maximum duration of the process for issuing the authorisation (all measures mentioned or suggested during the consultation process). At the same time, this proposal takes into account the existing practices of the Member States.

For more information

Justice and Home Affairs Newsroom:

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs:

1 :

The European Union replaced and succeeded the European Community on the date of entry into force of the ‘Lisbon Treaty’ on 1 December 2009, pursuant to Article 1 third paragraph of the Treaty on European Union (OJ C115 of 9 May 2008, p. 13).

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