European Agenda on Security : New measures…


Action to combat terrorism and illegal trafficking of firearms and explosives

Karikatür «Canlı bomba» kursu : ‘Açın gözünüzü ve dikkatlice iyi bakın nasıl yapacağıma, çünkü sadece bir kez göstereceğim!’

Karikatür
«Canlı bomba» kursu :
‘Açın gözünüzü ve dikkatlice iyi bakın nasıl yapacağıma, çünkü sadece bir kez göstereceğim!’

Stronger cooperation with third countries: In order to reduce the illegal import of firearms and the access to explosives into the European Union, the Action Plan proposes to step up cooperation with third countries through the systematic inclusion of firearms trafficking and use of explosives into security dialogues with key partner countries and organisations. In addition to reinforcing the cooperation with the key countries of the Western Balkans, the European Commission proposes to enhance cooperation with countries in the Middle East and North Africa as well as with Turkey…

Europäische Sicherheitsagenda: Kommission ergreift Maßnahmen gegen Terrorismus und illegalen Waffen- und Sprengstoffhandel

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Bruxelles, le 2 décembre 2015 – La Commission européenne a adopté, ce jour, un train de mesures afin d’intensifier la lutte contre le terrorisme et le trafic d’armes à feu et d’explosifs. Ce train de mesures comprend deux volets principaux: d’une part, une proposition de directive relative à la lutte contre le terrorisme, qui permettra à l’UE de renforcer son arsenal de prévention des attentats en érigeant en infractions certains actes préparatoires tels que l’entraînement et le fait de se rendre à l’étranger à des fins terroristes ainsi que le fait de se rendre complice d’actes terroristes, d’inciter à les commettre et de tenter de les commettre; d’autre part, un plan d’action visant à intensifier la lutte contre les criminels et les terroristes qui ont accès à des armes et à des explosifs et qui en font usage, moyennant un contrôle renforcé de la détention et de l’importation illicites dans l’UE. Les attentats atroces perpétrés à Paris le 13 novembre dernier ont montré une fois de plus que l’Europe devait durcir sa réponse commune au terrorisme et prendre des mesures concrètes pour combattre le terrorisme et le trafic d’armes à feu et d’explosifs.

M. Frans Timmermans,premier vice-président de la Commission européenne, a déclaré: «La Commission est déterminée à faire tout ce qui est en son pouvoir pour aider les États membres à affronter la menace terroriste et à la vaincre. Le nombre croissant de citoyens de l’Union qui se rendent à l’étranger pour devenir des «combattants étrangers» contraint l’UE à mettre à jour son cadre juridique relatif aux infractions terroristes pour apporter une réponse commune sur le plan de la justice pénale. La coopération au niveau de l’UE et avec les pays tiers est également indispensable pour lutter contre le marché noir des armes à feu et des explosifs. Nos propositions accompagneront les efforts des autorités nationales pour désorganiser les réseaux terroristes. »

M. Dimitris Avramopoulos,commissaire européen pour la migration, les affaires intérieures et la citoyenneté, a déclaré pour sa part: «Nous honorons aujourd’hui l’engagement que nous avions pris de nous montrer intransigeant à l’égard du terrorisme. Notre proposition vise non seulement les auteurs de telles atrocités mais aussi leurs complices: ceux qui les aident à se déplacer, qui contribuent à financer ou à soutenir le terrorisme. C’est ainsi que nous durcissons notre réponse pénale pour lutter contre les graves menaces que constituent les combattants terroristes étrangers. Nous proposons également un plan d’action de l’UE sur les armes à feu et les explosifs afin d’empêcher les terroristes d’avoir accès aux trafiquants d’armes dans l’UE et dans sa périphérie. L’Europe doit agir collectivement, promptement et avec détermination, pour réprimer le terrorisme et améliorer notre sécurité.»

Les propositions présentées ce jour s’inscrivent dans le programme européen en matière de sécurité adopté en avril 2015. À la suite des récents événements, le rythme de leur mise en œuvre a été nettement accéléré.

Une proposition de nouvelle directive relative à la lutte contre le terrorisme

La proposition de nouvelle directive relative à la lutte contre le terrorisme comble les lacunes que présentait le cadre juridique de l’Union européenne en matière de contrôle du respect de la législation pénale. La proposition de directive prévoit également des définitions communes d’infractions terroristes, ce qui permet d’apporter une réponse commune au phénomène des combattants terroristes étrangers, de maximiser ainsi l’effet dissuasif dans l’ensemble de l’UE et de faire en sorte que les auteurs de ces infractions soient effectivement punis.

La proposition de directive réforme le cadre juridique en vigueur de l’UE sur l’incrimination de comportements liés à des activités terroristes. Elle transpose en droit de l’UE des obligations de droit international, telles que celles découlant des dispositions de la résolution 2178 (2014) du Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies sur les combattants terroristes étrangers, du protocole additionnel, récemment adopté, à la convention du Conseil de l’Europe pour la prévention du terrorisme et des recommandations du groupe d’action financière sur le financement du terrorisme.

La proposition de directive érige en infraction:

§ le fait de se rendre à l’étranger à des fins terroristes, tant sur le territoire de l’Union qu’à l’extérieur, pour lutter contre le phénomène des combattants terroristes étrangers;

§ le financement, l’organisation et la facilitation de ces voyages, y compris par un appui logistique et matériel, dont la fourniture d’armes à feu et d’explosifs, d’abris, de moyens de transport, de services, d’avoirs et de marchandises;

§ le fait de recevoir un entraînement à des fins terroristes. Les structures chargées de contrôler le respect de la loi auront la possibilité d’enquêter sur les activités d’entraînement susceptibles de conduire à la perpétration d’infractions terroristes et d’engager des poursuites contre les personnes ayant reçu cet entraînement;

§ procurer des fonds utilisés pour commettre des infractions terroristes et des infractions en relation avec des groupes terroristes ou des activités terroristes.

La proposition de directive durcit également les dispositions érigeant en infractions pénales le recrutement, l’entraînement à des fins terroristes et la diffusion de la propagande terroriste, y compris en ligne.

La proposition de la Commission énonce également de nouvelles règles, qui complètent la directive concernant les droits des victimes de 2012, afin que les victimes du terrorisme aient immédiatement accès à des services d’aide professionnels offrant des traitements physiques et un accompagnement psychosocial et soient immédiatement informées de leurs droits, quel que soit leur lieu de résidence dans l’Union européenne.

Un plan d’action contre le trafic d’armes à feu et l’utilisation d’explosifs

La Commission européenne a également adopté, ce jour, un plan d’action pour cibler le trafic d’armes à feu et d’explosifs dans l’UE. Ce plan vise à améliorer la détection et la saisie des armes à feu, explosifs et précurseurs d’explosifs utilisés à des fins criminelles et terroristes ainsi que les enquêtes en la matière.

Ce plan d’action vient compléter les mesures adoptées le 18 novembre 2015 destinées à durcir les contrôles sur l’acquisition et la détention légales d’armes à feu et à appliquer des normes minimales communes en matière de neutralisation des armes à feu.

Le plan d’action vise à améliorer la coopération opérationnelle au niveau de l’UE et avec des pays tiers en vue d’accroître l’efficacité de la lutte contre le marché noir des armes et des explosifs. Ses principaux éléments sont les suivants:

§ restreindre l’accès aux armes à feu et aux explosifs illégaux: le plan d’action invite tous les États membres à créer des points de contact nationaux interconnectés sur les armes à feu afin de développer leur expertise et d’améliorer l’analyse et l’établissement de rapports stratégiques sur le trafic d’armes à feu, notamment par l’exploitation combinée de renseignements de nature pénale et se rapportant à des données balistiques. Il prévoit également un renforcement du rôle d’Europol en ce qui concerne le trafic en ligne et le détournement du commerce légal grâce à son unité de signalement des contenus sur Internet, créée récemment. Le plan d’action invite instamment les États membres à mettre entièrement en œuvre les règles de l’UE sur les précurseurs d’explosifs.

§ Approfondir la coopération opérationnelle: le plan d’action invite instamment les États membres à créer des cyberpatrouilles ou à étendre celles qui existent aux armes à feu, aux explosifs et aux précurseurs d’explosifs. Les contrôles aux frontières extérieures ainsi que la coopération policière et douanière devraient être renforcés par des contrôles fondés sur les risques ciblant les marchandises, que celles-ci arrivent par des canaux commerciaux (par exemple, en conteneurs), via le transport de passagers (par exemple, dans des voitures) ou dans les bagages des passagers. Le plan d’action propose également d’établir une action de contrôle prioritaire en matière douanière avec les États membres en ce qui concerne le trafic d’armes à feu aux frontières extérieures de l’UE.

§ Améliorer la collecte et le partage d’informations opérationnelles: le plan d’action incite les États membres à faire pleinement usage des outils existants pour faciliter l’échange d’informations et à inclure systématiquement les informations sur les armes à feu recherchées dans le système d’information Schengen et dans le Système INTERPOL de gestion des données sur les armes illicites et du traçage des armes (iARMS). L’échange de données balistiques devrait être renforcé au moyen d’une plateforme spécialisée.

§ Consolider la coopération avec les pays tiers: afin de réduire l’importation illégale d’armes à feu dans l’Union européenne et l’accès aux explosifs sur son territoire, le plan d’action propose d’intensifier la coopération avec les pays tiers, par l’inclusion systématique du trafic d’armes à feu et de l’utilisation d’explosifs dans les dialogues sur la sécurité avec les pays et organisations partenaires clés. La Commission européenne propose, en plus de renforcer la coopération avec les pays clés des Balkans occidentaux, d’approfondir celle menée avec des pays du Moyen-Orient et d’Afrique du Nord ainsi qu’avec la Turquie et l’Ukraine. Une attention particulière est accordée à l’instauration d’un dialogue avec les pays de la région du Sahel, avec la Ligue arabe et diverses organisations internationales. Dans certains cas, l’aide financière de l’UE pourrait être envisagée pour la confiscation et la mise hors service des armes à feu.

Contexte

La responsabilité d’assurer la sécurité intérieure incombe en premier lieu aux États membres, mais les enjeux transfrontières défient la capacité de chaque pays à agir seul et rendent nécessaire l’appui de l’UE pour susciter la confiance et faciliter la coopération, l’échange d’informations et une action conjointe.

Dans les orientations politiques du président Juncker, la sécurité figure parmi les priorités de la nouvelle Commission, tandis que le programme de travail de la Commission pour l’année 2015 prévoyait la présentation d’un programme européen en matière de sécurité.

Le 28 avril 2015, la Commission européenne a présenté un programme européen en matière de sécurité pour la période 2015-2020, qui doit aider les États membres à coopérer contre les menaces qui pèsent sur la sécurité et donner plus de poids à notre action commune contre le terrorisme, la criminalité organisée et la cybercriminalité. Ce programme expose les mesures et outils concrets auxquels recourront toutes les parties prenantes pour garantir la sécurité et affronter plus efficacement ces trois menaces particulièrement préoccupantes. Depuis lors, d’importants progrès ont été réalisés dans la mise en œuvre des différents points prévus par ce programme.

Dans le programme en matière de sécurité et dans le programme de travail pour l’année 2016, la Commission s’est engagée à réexaminer en 2016 la législation en vigueur sur les armes à feu afin d’améliorer le partage de l’information, de renforcer la traçabilité, d’harmoniser le marquage et d’instaurer des normes communes de neutralisation des armes à feu. Compte tenu des événements récents, la Commission a sensiblement accéléré ces travaux.

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Brussels, 2 December 2015 – The European Commission adopted today a package of measures to step up the fight against terrorism and the illegal trafficking of firearms and explosives. The package includes two main elements: a proposal for a Directive on Terrorism, which will strengthen the EU’s arsenal in preventing terrorist attacks by criminalising preparatory acts such as training and travel abroad for terrorist purposes as well as aiding or abetting, inciting and attempting terrorist acts; an Action Plan to step up the fight against criminals and terrorists accessing and using weapons and explosives through a reinforced control of illicit possession and import to the EU. The atrocious terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November showed once more that Europe needs to scale up its common response to terrorism and take concrete actions in the fight against terrorism and the illegal trafficking of firearms and explosives.

European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “The Commission is determined to do everything it can to help Member States address and defeat the terrorist threat. The increase in the number of EU citizens travelling abroad to become ‘foreign fighters’ means that an update of the EU framework on terrorist offences is needed to ensure a common criminal justice response. Cooperation at EU level and with third countries is also necessary to crack down on the black market for firearms and explosives. Our proposals will facilitate the efforts of national authorities to disrupt terrorist networks. ”

European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Today we deliver on our promise to be firm on terrorism. Our proposal targets not only those who commit terrorist atrocities, but also those who help with travelling, financing or supporting terrorism. This is how we reinforce our criminal response to tackle the serious threats posed by foreign terrorist fighters. We also bring to the table an EU Action Plan on firearms and explosives in order to cut the access of terrorists to the traffickers within the EU and on our periphery. Europe needs to act together, decisively and swiftly, to crack down on terrorism and improve our security.”

The proposals presented today are part of the European Security Agenda adopted in April 2015. In the light of the recent events, their implementation has been significantly accelerated.

A proposal for a new Directive on combating terrorism

The proposal for a new Directive on terrorism closes criminal enforcement gaps in the EU legal framework. The Directive also provides for common definitions of terrorist offences ensuring a common response to the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters, so enhancing the deterrent effect across the EU and ensuring that perpetrators are effectively sanctioned.

The new Directive overhauls the EU’s existing legal framework on the criminalisation of offences linked to terrorist activities. It implements into EU law international obligations, such as the provisions of the UN Security Council Resolution 2178(2014) on Foreign Terrorist Fighters, the recently adopted Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of terrorism and the Financial Action Task Force Recommendations on terrorist financing.

The proposed Directive criminalises:

§ Travelling for terrorist purposes, both within and outside the EU, to counter the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters;

§ The funding, organisation and facilitation of such travels, including through logistical and material support, including the provision of firearms and explosives, shelter, means of transportation, services, assets and goods;

§ Receiving training for terrorist purposes. Law enforcement will be provided with the possibility to investigate and prosecute training activities having the potential to lead to the committing of terrorist offences;

§ Providing funds used to commit terrorist offences and offences related to terrorist groups or terrorist activities;

The proposal also strengthens provisions criminalising recruitment, training for terrorist purposes and the spread of terrorist propaganda, including on the internet.

The Commission proposal also lays out new rules, complementing the Directive on rights for victims from 2012, to ensure that victims of terrorism receive immediate access to professional support services providing for physical and psycho-social treatments as well as immediate information on their rights, independently of where they live in the European Union.

An Action Plan against firearms illicit trafficking and the use of explosives

The European Commission today also adopted an Action Plan to target the illicit trafficking of firearms and explosives in the EU. The aim of the Action Plan is to better detect, investigate and seize firearms, explosives and explosives precursors to be used for criminal and terrorist purposes.

This Action Plan complements the measures adopted on 18 November 2015 aimed at tightening controls on the legal acquisition and possession of firearms and implementing common minimum standards for the deactivation of firearms.

The Action Plan seeks to improve operational cooperation at EU level and with third countries to render the fight against the black market of weapons and explosives more effective. Its key elements are:

§ Restricting access to illegal firearms and explosives: The Action Plan invites all Member States to set up inter-connected national focal points on firearms to develop expertise and improve analysis and strategic reporting on illicit trafficking in firearms, notably through the combined use of both ballistic and criminal intelligence. It also foresees a stronger role for Europol regarding online trafficking and the diversion of legal trade through its recently established Internet Referral Unit. The Action Plan urges Member States to fully implement EU rules on Explosives precursors.

§ Enhance operational cooperation: The Action Plan urges the Member States to set up or expand the existing cyber-patrol teams to firearms, explosives and explosives precursors. Controls at the external borders, as well as police and customs cooperation should be strengthened by risk-based controls on goods whether arriving in commercial traffic (e.g. containers), in passenger transport (e.g. cars) or in passengers’ luggage. The Action Plan also proposes to establish a Customs Priority Control Action with member States on the illicit trafficking of firearms at the EU’s external borders.

§ Improve gathering and sharing of operational information: The Action Plan calls on Member States to make full use of existing tools to facilitate information exchange and systematically insert information on sought firearms into the Schengen Information System and Interpol’s iARMS where available. Exchange on ballistic information should be strengthened through a dedicated platform.

§ Stronger cooperation with third countries: In order to reduce the illegal import of firearms and the access to explosives into the European Union, the Action Plan proposes to step up cooperation with third countries through the systematic inclusion of firearms trafficking and use of explosives into security dialogues with key partner countries and organisations. In addition to reinforcing the cooperation with the key countries of the Western Balkans, the European Commission proposes to enhance cooperation with countries in the Middle East and North Africa as well as with Turkey and Ukraine. Particular consideration is given to the establishment of a dialogue with countries in the Sahel region, with the Arab League and with international organisations. In certain cases, EU financial assistance could be envisaged as regards the confiscation and the decommissioning of firearms.

Background

The responsibility for ensuring internal security is first and foremost with the Member States, but cross-border challenges defy the capacity of individual countries to act alone and require EU support to build trust and facilitate cooperation, exchange of information and joint action.

President Juncker’s Political Guidelines identified the security agenda as a priority for this Commission, and the 2015 Commission Work Programme committed to the delivery of the European Agenda on Security.

On 28 April 2015, the European Commission set out a European Agenda on Security for the period 2015-2020 to support Member States’ cooperation in tackling security threats and step up our common efforts in the fight against terrorism, organised crime and cybercrime. The Agenda sets out the concrete tools and measures which will be used in this joint work to ensure security and tackle these three most pressing threats more effectively. Since then, significant progress has been made in implementing the elements of the agenda.

In the Agenda and in the Work Programme for 2016, the Commission promised to review the existing legislation on firearms in 2016 to improve the sharing of information, to reinforce traceability, to standardise marking, and to establish common standards for neutralising firearms. In the light of recent events the Commission has significantly accelerated this work.

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Implementing the European Agenda on Security – New measures to combat terrorism and illicit trafficking of firearms and use of explosives

Brussels, 2 December 2015 – Directive on combating terrorism

What problem is the proposed Directive on terrorism addressing?

EU Member States are faced with an increasing number of EU nationals who travel abroad for the purposes of terrorism. While the phenomenon of so-called “foreign terrorist fighters”is not new, the scale of people travelling to conflict zones, in particular to Syria and Iraq, to fight or train with terrorist groups is unprecedented.

The latest Europol EU Terrorism Situation and Trend report states that the current scale of the phenomenon is growing: by late 2014, over 3000 persons had departed from the EU to conflict areas, and this is estimated to have now reached 5000. The number of returnees is also reported to have increased in several Member States.

While foreign terrorist fighters constitute the primary source of concern, the threat posed by home-grown terrorists, radicalised lone attackers and “frustrated” terrorist travellers (for example those who could not leave following seizure of their passport) should not be underestimated.

The cross border dimension of the terrorist threat is not limited to travel to conflict areas. Terrorists use evasive techniques to avoid raising suspicion: they circulate within the EU and may transit through countries other than their country of residence/nationality with a view to circumvent controls and surveillance. Recent attacks perpetrated in the EU demonstrate that terrorists travel to other Member States to carry out attacks or for logistical reasons (e.g. funding, procurement of weapons).

Furthermore, terrorist groups have demonstrated advanced skills in the use of the Internet and new communication technologies to disseminate propaganda, interact with potential recruits, share knowledge, plan and coordinate operations.

Why are the current rules not sufficient?

EU legislation of 2002, last updated in 2008, already criminalises certain terrorist acts, including the commission of terrorist attacks.

However, this legislation needs to be strengthened in line with developments in the area of terrorism to tackle offences such as travelling abroad for terrorist purposes, the receiving of training and a comprehensive offence of terrorist financing, which are not yet included in EU law. More coherent, comprehensive and harmonised criminal law provisions are therefore necessary to effectively prevent and prosecute the current “modus operandi” of terrorists and to respond swiftly to the increased cross-border challenges.

How will the new measures help prevent terrorist attacks?

The proposed Directive criminalises travelling abroad for terrorist purposes, terrorism funding and the receiving of training, aimed at addressing the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters.

The new rules will ensure that travel to other countries for terrorist purposes is punishable in all EU countries, as well as acts that facilitate and organise such travel, through provision of transport, funds and safe-houses.

These changes will give criminal investigative powers to national authorities to pursue the persons responsible for terrorist attacks. Also, by ensuring that these acts are punishable throughout the European Union, the exchange of information and operational cooperation between law enforcement authorities will become much easier.

More generally, the proposed Directive would require criminalisation of acts of a preparatory nature such as recruitment to terrorism, allowing the competent authorities to intervene at an early stage to prevent preparation and planning of terrorist acts. In addition, the proposed Directive will require Member States to already criminalise the attempt of such preparatory actions, including recruitment, training or travelling thus facilitating the even earlier prevention and disruption of future terrorist activities.

By establishing common definitions of terrorist offences, the proposed Directive will ensure that there are no enforcement gaps in the EU and that the relevant acts are punishable with sufficiently deterrent penalties.

Will criminalisation help prevent radicalisation?

Criminalising behaviour that precedes the actual terrorist act is essential to preventing acts of terrorism. EU action against terrorism also aims at addressing and tackling the root causes of extremism and radicalisation through a range of preventive measures. The Commission considers the proposal to consolidate the legal framework governing the criminalisation of terrorist acts as part of a broader endeavour which also includes increased efforts in preventing radicalisation.

To enhance and support efforts to prevent radicalisation leading to violent extremism the Commission has established the RAN Centre of Excellence which supports a large network of local practitioners (the Radicalisation Awareness network). The RAN Centre facilitates the exchange of best practices and expertise, consolidates knowledge and identifies and develops best practices, concrete guidance and tailor made support services. It helps deliver on the various actions identified in the Commission Communication “Preventing Radicalisation to Terrorism and Violent Extremism: Strengthening the EU’s Response”. This includes the involvement of families and communities as well as teachers and educators in the efforts to counter radicalisation and to enhance critical thinking and democratic values.

How does the Directive tackle terrorist financing?

This proposal for a Directive introduces a comprehensive definition of the crime of terrorist financing, covering the provision of funds that are used to commit terrorist offences and offences related to terrorist groups or terrorist activities.

The criminalisation of terrorist financing includes the provision of funds for the planning or execution of a terrorist attack, the provision of funds necessary to recruit, train or spread terrorist propaganda and of funds to maintain the activities of a terrorist group.

How does the Directive relate to international standards?

The new Directive complements the EU’s existing legal framework on the criminalisation of offences linked to terrorist activities. It also implements into EU law the provisions of the UN Security Council Resolution 2178(2014) on Foreign Terrorist Fighters, the recently adopted Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of terrorism and the Financial Action Task Force Recommendations on terrorist financing.

UN Security Council Resolution 2178(2014) requires that states establish serious criminal offences on: a) the travel or attempted travel to a third country with the purpose of contributing to the commission of terrorist acts or the providing or receiving of training; b) the funding of such travel and c) the organisation or facilitation of such travel.

In May 2015, the Council of Europe adopted an Additional Protocol to the Convention on the prevention of terrorism implementing certain criminal law provisions of the UNSCR 2178(2014), including the above-mentioned obligations. The EU signed the Additional Protocol as well as the Convention on 22 October 2015.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations on terrorist financing state that countries should criminalise not only the financing of terrorist acts but also the financing of terrorist organisations and individual terrorists even in the absence of a link to a specific terrorist act or acts.

What is the Commission doing to protect the rights of victims?

The proposed Directive on combatting terrorism reinforces the rights of victims of terrorism to support and assistance. In line with the Victims’ Rights Directive, the proposed Directive requires that specific support structures are in place and ready to provide emotional and psychological support and information to victims of terrorism immediately after an attack and for as long as necessary. Also a special care would need to be taken of victims of terrorism coming from other Member States. The support and access to information should be available to them also when they come back to their home countries.

How does the proposal ensure that fundamental rights are respected?

The proposed measures respond to the evolving terrorist threat but do not go further than what is necessary and proportionate.

The proposal recalls the importance of the respect of fundamental rights in establishing as well as implementing the criminal provisions in question. This includes the right to a fair trial, the presumption of innocence and the right to defence. It further recalls the importance of respecting freedom of expression and information, the right to asylum, the general prohibition of discrimination and freedom of movement and residence.

When implementing the Directive, Member States will be bound by the respect of these rights and principles. The objective and subjective elements of the offence shall be proven in accordance with the national law of a Member State.

EU Action plan against illicit trafficking in and use of firearms and explosives

Why is an Action Plan necessary?

The European Agenda on Security identified the fight against trafficking in firearms as one of its priority actions. It called for a review of the legal framework and reinforcement of the fight against firearms trafficking. The Justice and Home Affairs Council Conclusions of 8th of October called on EU Member States, the Commission, Europol and Interpol to deliver on a series of actions for that purpose. The Commission was also urged to review the legislation and actions on firearms and explosives.

The recent attacks in Paris attacks brought about a renewed sense of urgency. They showed once more that terrorist networks are accessing weapons and explosives through organised crime networks and the black market. The illicit trafficking of firearms is also part of the core business of organised crime groups. The firearms trade also contributes to other forms of criminality and is used for intimidation, coercion and gang violence.

The Commission delivered the review of the Firearms Directive and a Commission Regulation on deactivation standards on 18 November. With the Action Plan presented today, the Commission is looking into how the fight against trafficking in firearms and explosives can be stepped up in practice and rendered more effective. The Action Plan seeks to improve operational cooperation and exchange of information at EU level and with third countries.

How does the Action Plan complement the Firearms package of 18 November?

The measures proposed in the Action Plan complement the legislative proposals made in the review of the Directive on firearms and the implementing regulation on deactivation of firearms, by addressing the illegal trafficking aspects.

The review of the Firearms Directive proposes EU-wide common rules on the marking of firearms in order to improve the traceability of legally held or imported firearms.

This will be supported by the following actions foreseen in the Action Plan:

§ A handbook for tracking and tracing illegal firearms,

§ The possible prohibition of cash payments in the context of private sales or acquisition of firearms and ammunition.

§ An evaluation of the modalities for a system to exchange information on the intra-EU movements of firearms.

Furthermore, the Action Plan also foresees the stepping up of a number of measures in the fight against online trafficking, in particular via Europol. These measures support the enforcement of the prohibition of private sales of firearms online as introduced by the review of the Firearms Directive.

What are the new elements of the Action Plan?

The Action Plan on illicit trafficking in and use of firearms and explosives:

§ Proposes a central monitoring role for Europol through its recently established Internet Referral Unit, regarding firearms, explosives and explosives precursors trafficking and sales online;

§ Reinforces the engagement with the firearms and chemical industries, relevant national law enforcement agencies and Europol to evaluate the impact of technological advancements on the potential availability of firearms and explosives;

§ Invites Europol to develop a Europol Analysis System, to produce assessment and knowledge tools to enable early warning notifications;

§ Invites Member States to set-up inter-connected national focal points on firearms for development of expertise and improved analysis. Member States are also invited to set up cyber-patrol teams to detect trafficking and online sales of firearms, explosives and explosives precursors;

§ Invites CEPOLto identify current training needs and to develop common curricula on firearms and explosives for all Member State experts;

§ Calls on Member States to carry-outas soon as possible risk-based controls on goods at the external borders;

As set out in the Action Plan, the Commission will:

§ Establish with Member States a Customs Priority Control Action on firearms and, as far as possible, also on explosives;

§ Explore the idea of prohibiting payments in cash for firearms sales;

§ Facilitate the exchange of ballistic information through a dedicated platform using the Ballistic Information network and other relevant systems in use by Member States;

§ Systematically include firearms trafficking and use of explosives in Security Dialogues with third countries;

§ In addition to the Action Plan on firearms trafficking with the Western Balkans, proceed with similar projects with MENA countries and promote dedicated discussions and enhanced cooperation with Turkey and Ukraine.

§ A special consideration is also given to future dialogue with the Sahel region and the Arab League and international organisations.

How does the Action Plan address the access to explosives and to explosive precursors?

Preventing the illicit manufacturing of home-made explosives is a key priority of the Commission. Last year EU Regulation 98/2013 on explosives precursors, which restricts and controls the access to several dangerous chemicals used to make explosives, came into force. The regulation also allows for early police investigations on suspicious transactions and other incidents.

The Action Plan urges the Member States to fully implement Regulation 98/2013 on Explosive precursors and to ensure that any suspicious activity involving explosive precursors is reported to the police. Several Member States have not yet informed the Commission how they will implement the Regulation. The Commission will speed up the review of the Regulation on explosive precursors, initially foreseen for 2017, in order to further tighten restrictions and controls on explosive precursors at EU level. Some chemical precursors used for making the suicide belts in Paris are already restricted and controlled in this new Regulation.

The Commission is also proposing specific actions to enhance operational cooperation between law enforcement authorities to make better use of existing information-sharing tools and to increase the detection capabilities in the area of explosives.

The Commission will also assess the need to harmonise vetting standards and procedures for security personnel at EU level.

What is being done to help detect explosives?

The Commission has started developing practical tools and guidance material such as handbooks to assist practitioners, first respondents and law enforcement specialists. This work is developed in the framework of law enforcement and practitioners’ networks such as AIRPOL (Airport Police) RAILPOL (Railways Police), the European Explosives Ordnance Disposal Network (EEODN), and the European Explosives Dog Detection Working Group.

The aim is to share experiences, develop best practices and common operational procedures in areas such as new detection technologies, disposal of explosives devices, securing public space and critical infrastructures (including for example rail stations and the Thalys network).

A first classified handbook on aviation soft targets was published last summer, and other such materials are being finalised and will be presented soon to Interior Ministers.

The creation of a pool of detection experts is also proposed, which can help establish capacity building and support programmes in the field of detection of explosives and other threats, and can work closely with different EU Law enforcement networks.

How will the Action Plan reinforce the exchange of information?

Improving the exchange of information and increasing police cooperation are crucial objectives of the measures laid out in the Action Plan.

In this regard, the Commission will:

§ Step up the cooperation with Europol, INTERPOL and the Member States with a view to ensuring the interoperability between Interpol iARMS and the Schengen Information System II by July 2016;

§ Extend the use of iTRACE (conventional weapons), the European Bomb Data System (EBDS), the exchange of ballistic information and the Europol Analysis System while ensuring the full use of the Europol Focal Point on firearms;

§ Assess how to best ensure the effective compatibility of existing systems. The existence of different systems of exchange of information used by different law enforcement authorities for different purposes (all relevant to the fight against the illicit trafficking of firearms and explosives) highlights the need for stronger technical interconnectivity;

§ Evaluate the modalities for a system to exchange information on the intra-EU movements of firearms. The Commission will make the evaluation, taking into account relevant existing EU information systems and instruments (in line with the proposal for the revision of the Firearms Directive adopted on 18 November 2015).

What is the EU Internet Referral Unit? How can it contribute to the prevention of terrorism?

The establishment of the EU Internet Referral Unit (IRU) at Europol aims to help reduce the volume of terrorist material online. It was launched on 1 July 2015 (pilot phase). In its first three months, over 550 referrals were made. The Commission intends to support the IRU in reaching out to more internet companies, as well as encouraging the companies to have adequate arrangements in place to receive referrals from the EU IRU.

Will the cooperation with other countries in our neighbourhood be reinforced?

The current instability in the Middle East and North Africa region has led to a drastic increase in the illicit trafficking of firearms towards this region. The Commission has started a dialogue to explore possible future cooperation withAlgeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia at the occasion of the first conference between the EU and these countries held on 1st October 2015.

Enhanced cooperation is needed with Turkey and Ukraine and identified as one of the steps to be taken under the Action Plan.

Special consideration is also given to future dialogues with countries of the Sahel region, the Arab League and international organisations.

How will the implementation of the Action Plan be monitored?

The Commission will assess the implementation of the Action Plan in the context of the six-monthly reporting to Council and European Parliament under the European Agenda on Security.

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