The challenge to tackle the illicit trafficking in firearms is significant. According to information from Europol, among others, there are about 4 millions unregistered arms only in the Balkans. The global underground weapon market is estimated to have a turn over of between 170 and 320 millions dollars a year. Trafficking in arms is a true cross-border activity and a considerable crime. We need a stronger EU policy in this area, and commitment by actors on all levels. There is already a lot of cooperation, directives and action plans on the EU level; however, there is a general feeling that we can do more. In order to discuss this and concrete future actions, we gathered today leading experts and representatives from the firearms industry and authorities for a conference in Brussels.
Various things are being done on an international, national, regional and local level. In the Stockholm Programme from 2009, the EU’s Member States established trafficking in firearms as a threat against the security in the EU, and stated that joint measures are required in the area. For example, information exchange between the police authorities, better implementation of the legal trade in registered firearms, but also more effective border controls and raids. In 2010, the Council adopted a European Action Plan to combat illicit trafficking in heavy firearms. The Commission is now planning to present a communication, within a year, with the objective to assess existing measures to prevent illicit trafficking in firearms, and to present potential future measures in the area. Therefore, any input is welcome. Based on the results of today’s conference and other discussions with experts, we will identify specific areas of complexity and future measures on the most efficient level to improve the EU’s internal security.