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European Union: Draft Regulation on Import, Export, and Transit of Firearms for Civilian Use

(June 8, 2010) On May 31, 2010, the European Commission came up with a proposal for a regulation on establishing procedural rules for the export, import, and transit of firearms and their parts, essential components, and ammunition intended for civilian use. The impetus for this proposal was the signing in 2002 of the United Nations Firearms Protocol by the European Community. (Press Release, Commission Proposal to Adopt Article 10 of the United Nations Firearms Protocol, RAPID, May 31, 2010, available at

The Protocol supplements the U.N. Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. Because the European Union – the European Community's successor since December 1, 2009 – is expected to proceed with ratification soon, it must align its legal system with the requirements of the Protocol. Specifically, article 10 of the Protocol, on “general requirements for export, import and transit, licensing or authorization of systems,” requires the signatories to “establish or maintain an effective system of export and import licensing or authorization, as well as measures on international transit, for the transfer of firearms, their parts and components and ammunition.” (United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto,
(last visited June 2, 2010).)

The draft regulation provides that exports of firearms are subject to authorizations that must contain sufficient information to trace the weapons, including the country of origin, the country of export, the consignee, and the final recipient, as well as information on the quantity of the firearms, parts, components, and ammunition in the shipment. It also requires that EU Members must confirm that the country of import has issued an import authorization and, in the case of transit, third countries must grant consent that they do not object to the transit. (Press Release, supra.)

Transfers of firearms within the EU and transfers of firearms for military use are outside the scope of the draft regulation. The latter are governed by Directive 91/477/EEC (1991 OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION) [OJ] L 256, 51), as amended by Directive 2008/51/EC (2008 0J L 179, 5).