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«EUROPEAN COMMISSION Brussels, 2.12.2015 COM(2015) 624 final COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL Implementing ...»

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and key enablers (e.g. legal business sectors or express delivery companies). Judicial cooperation between national authorities is also instrumental to fight against illicit trafficking of firearms. Eurojust was involved in several significant cases over recent years, notably in conjunction with other offences such as drug trafficking.

Disrupting illicit firearms supply via the Internet (open and darkweb) The ability for organised crime rings and terrorists to obtain firearms, parts or components on the Internet, whether on the "open" Internet or the "darkweb" is a vulnerability that needs to

be addressed urgently. The following actions should be pursued:

1. In addition to the full implementation of the Operational Action Plan on firearms, the Commission calls on the Member States to set up cyber-patrol teams or to focus the activities of existing ones on detecting the trafficking of firearms, parts or components, and explosives on the Internet.

2. Building upon the lessons learned from Operation Onymous23 and Darkode24, Europol will support Member States' operations and investigations by providing operational analysis, coordination and expertise, notably through highly specialised technical and digital forensic support capabilities and the full use of the Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT)25.

3. Europol will also develop a toolkit for online investigations, notably in cooperation with the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

4. As most of the infrastructure of the Internet is owned and operated by the private sector, the Commission will include the prevention and detection of illicit trafficking of firearms, parts, or components and explosives in its ongoing partnerships with the private sector26.

Enhancing the control of intra-EU movements The Explosives Control and Protection System (SCEPYLT)27 enables the electronic approval of intra-EU transfers of explosives, making the movement of explosives around Europe faster and easier to control. In the future, it could also be used as a traceability tool to support identification and tracing efforts.

In order to enhance control over explosives, the Commission will encourage all Member States to fully connect to and use this system.

In accordance with the proposal for the revision of the Firearms Directive adopted on 18 November 201528, the Commission will evaluate the modalities for a system to exchange information on the intra-EU movements of firearms taking into account relevant existing EU https://www.europol.europa.eu/content/global-action-against-dark-markets-tor-network https://www.europol.europa.eu/content/cybercriminal-darkode-forum-taken-down-through-global-action The Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce is hosted at the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) at Europol. It was launched on 1 September 2014 to further strengthen the fight against cybercrime in the European Union and beyond.

In the context of the Digital Single Market Strategy, the Commission is assessing how best to tackle illegal content on the internet.

See Council conclusions on systems and mechanisms for the enhancement of the security of explosives of 26 April 2010, http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/jha/114017.pdf COM(2015) 750 final of 18.11.2015. Proposal for a Directive of the EP and of the Council amending Council Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons.

information systems and instruments. This system should ensure a link between inputting and receiving Member States to make internal transfers more secure and improve the traceability of weapons and ammunition.

In order to strengthen the traceability of movements of legal firearms within a Member State and across Member States, the Commission will explore the possibility to prohibit cash payments in the context of sales or acquisition of firearms and ammunition by individuals.

Reinforced controls at the external borders Even though the sources of illicit firearms and explosives trafficking are diverse, controls at the external border and police and customs cooperation remain of paramount importance.

The Commission calls upon the Member States to carry out risk-based controls on goods at the external border whether arriving in commercial traffic (e.g. containers), in passenger transport (e.g.: cars) or in passengers' luggage. To that end, the Commission proposes to establish a Customs Priority Control Action with Member States on the illicit trafficking of firearms and - as far as possible - explosives, at the external borders. Implementation of all security-related actions foreseen in the Customs Risk Management Strategy and action plan will be accelerated by the Commission and Member States should advance their efforts accordingly.29.

Tracing firearms used by criminals and terrorists

Tracing firearms is an essential part of investigating firearms-related offences and learning more about the channels for illicit firearms. It is also critical to successfully disrupting access to explosives and precursors for explosives. The possibility to trace ammunition, which is currently limited, would also be of assistance for investigations.

The review of the Firearms Directive proposed by the Commission foresees common rules on marking of firearms in order to improve the traceability of legally held or imported firearms.





The Commission will moreover continue to fully support the European Firearms Experts Group's activities30 to develop a handbook for tracking and tracing illegal firearms.

Building upon the International Tracing Instrument and the international best practices developed by the United Nations International Small Arms Control Standards (ISACS)31, this manual will be disseminated to all Member States' law enforcement authorities. Tracing guidance and rules could include a requirement to generate reports to Europol to facilitate international tracing requests.

Enhancing training

Training is central to raising the level of expertise, and thus, improving EU cooperation.

Effective and consistent controls at the external border also require the practical exchange of best practices, expertise and information. CEPOL32 will pursue its activities in this area and

COM(2014)527 of 21.8.2014 final. Communication on the EU Strategy and Action Plan for customs risk management:

Tackling risks, strengthening supply chain security and facilitating trade.

The European Firearms Expert Group, composed of experts from each EU Member State, Europol and associate members Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey, was established in 2004 to facilitate exchange of information and promote cooperation against the illicit trafficking of firearms. This highly valued network supports the Council's Law Enforcement Working Party.

http://www.smallarmsstandards.org/ European Police College, https://www.cepol.europa.eu/who-we-are/european-police-college/about-us carry out a "gap analysis" to identify current training needs. This exercise could lead to the development of common curricula on firearms and explosives for all Member States experts, in cooperation with the European Explosives Ordnance Disposal Network (EEODN)33. CEPOL will also consider developing training schemes with third countries experts in firearms.

Developing innovative detection tools

The 2014 Commission Communication on Detection34 highlighted that an effective threat detection strategy can only be achieved if the threat substances and the environment (aviation, public areas, sports events, urban transport areas, etc.) are properly taken into account. While civil aviation has specific standards for detection technologies and processes, this has not been the case in other public areas (sports events, other modes of transport, and critical infrastructure). Further efforts are needed both in the use of detection technology and towards standardising its use. In 2012, the Commission started a programme with detection trials in different operational environments (airports, critical infrastructure, public buildings, and events – such as EURO 2012 in Poland)35.

Based on the above activities, the Commission will assess the feasibility of setting up an EU detection pool consisting of Commission and Member State experts, which would establish a capacity building and support programme in the field of detection of explosives and firearms.

Such a pool could initially focus on offering support for law enforcement and relevant services in Member States and expand further as appropriate.

Specific actions:

 Increasing cross-border cooperation through:

o Full implementation of the Operational Action Plan (OAP) on firearms;

o More cooperation to disrupt the illicit firearms supply online (open and darkweb);

o Evaluation of the modalities for a system to exchange information on the intra-EU movements of firearms taking into account relevant existing EU information systems and instruments;

o Explore the possibility of prohibiting cash payments in the context of sales or acquisition of firearms and ammunition by individuals;

o Reinforce controls at the external borders by undertaking risk-based controls on goods and through establishing a Customs Priority Control Action.

 Enhance the tracing of firearms through the development of a handbook for tracking and tracing illegal firearms in the framework of the European Firearms Experts Group;

 Develop common training curricula on firearms and explosives;

 Develop innovative detection tools;

 Joint operational actions involving all relevant law enforcement authorities.

The EEODN has in recent years become a highly valued network offering training and information sharing, including on recent incidents, to explosives experts from all Member States, and has substantially contributed to building capacity and exchanging good practices.

COM(2014) 247 final, 5.5.2014.

Resulting from such trials, different guidance material has been developed, such as for airport soft target protection, use of explosives detection dogs and soft target protection in different environments, as well as for the detection of firearms residues and explosives on passports which will be made available to Member States.

4. IMPROVING THE COLLECTION AND SHARING OF OPERATIONAL

INFORMATION THROUGH AN OPTIMAL USE OF EXISTING TOOLS

The European Agenda on Security highlighted the urgent need to make full use of the existing tools that the Union puts at the disposal of Member States to facilitate the exchange of information between national law enforcement authorities. Remaining critical gaps may require additional EU tools, while ensuring effective interoperability of existing systems.

The existence of different systems of exchange of information used by different law enforcement authorities for different purposes, yet all relevant to the fight against the illicit trafficking of firearms and explosives, highlights a need for stronger technical interconnectivity. The Commission will assess how to best ensure their effective compatibility.

To do so, the Commission will give particular attention to the need to enhance police-customs cooperation while taking account of the system of exchange information on the intra-EU movements of firearms to be developed under the draft revised Firearms Directive presented on 18 November 2015.

Ensuring interoperability between iARMS/SIS II/UMF

In line with the Council Conclusions of 8 October 2015, the Commission calls upon the Member States to systematically insert information on sought firearms into the SIS and to increase the insertion of information on firearms into the Europol Information System (EIS) and Interpol's iARMS, where available.

Interoperability between the Schengen Information System (SIS)36 and the INTERPOL iARMS37 would highly facilitate law enforcement action, making it more effective.

This interoperability in practice is already taking shape through ongoing actions between the Commission and INTERPOL. INTERPOL has upgraded the "FIND" software to also cover firearms and sought Member States to volunteer for a pilot project to take place in the first half of 2016 to simultaneously search national databases, SIS and iARMS. Ultimately, "type of firearm" values can be queried in both systems and comparisons can be made between the tables describing the makes of firearms.

The Commission will pursue cooperation with Europol38, INTERPOL and the Member States with a view to ensuring the interoperability between both systems by July 2016. To this end, the Commission urges Member States to participate to the pilot project.

SIS is the largest data exchange platform on lost and stolen firearms within the EU and the Schengen associated countries. To date, 29 countries in Europe are connected. On 31 December 2014, it held 457.059 firearm alerts, with only 180 hits effectively achieved in 2014 (on a total of 128.598 alert hits for all categories of firearms). This very low rate is mainly due to data quality issues, such as the fact that many Member States do not record the caliber, and that serial numbers of firearms are not unique.

The EU funded INTERPOL Illicit Arms Records and Tracing Management System (iARMS), facilitates information exchange and investigative cooperation between law enforcement agencies in relation to the international movement of illicit firearms, as well as licit firearms that have been involved in the commission of a crime. The iARMS database of Interpol is being rolled-out to the 190 member countries of Interpol. It contains approximately 756 000 records which are mainly inserted by Australia and Latin-American countries. So far only three percent of the information on firearms in this iARMS database originated in the EU. http://www.interpol.int/Crime-areas/Firearms/INTERPOL-Illicit-ArmsRecords-and-tracing-Management-System-iARMS The related Universal Message Format project (UMF, a set of building blocks to construct standard data exchanges for interconnecting dispersed law enforcement systems) will be aligned with the SIS-iARMS interoperability project.



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