Photo: Ministry of Interior
On 12-13 April, the European Firearms Experts (EFE), a group of experts dealing with measures against the illicit trafficking in firearms, held a plenary meeting in Sofia in the framework of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The meeting gathered experts from the EU Member States, representatives of the European Commission, Europol, Frontex, experts from the Western Balkans and the South Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC).
The participants reviewed the strategic goals for 2018, covering aspects related to raising the awareness of law enforcement officers, updating different analytical products related to firearms, and implementing the European Commission’s recommendation to Member States to establish national focal points.
The experts emphasised the crucial role of joint efforts in tackling the serious threat which the illicit trafficking of firearms and the use of explosives pose to the internal security of the Union.
They agreed that efficient counteraction requires enhanced cooperation with key partners outside the EU, such as the Western Balkans.
“In recent years, significant steps have been made to integrate illicit trafficking and use of firearms and explosives into security dialogues with our Western Balkan neighbours”,
highlighted Chief Commissioner Georgi Arabadzhiev, Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Interior. He recalled that this partnership is of paramount importance for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
EFE’s contribution to the activities of the Law Enforcement Working Party was emphasised by the chair of the working party and Deputy Director of the National Police General Directorate, Senior Commissioner Blagorodna Makeva.
“To achieve the main goals of EFE – effective results in joint criminal investigations and improvement of operational police cooperation -, it is essential to put a special attention on the information exchange, particularly with third parties”,
she pointed out.
European Firearms Experts (EFE) gathers representatives of EU Member States and the associate countries (Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland). The group is one of the sub-formats of the Law Enforcement Working Party (LEWP). Its activities are focused on strengthening international police cooperation in the investigation of firearms crimes, exchanging experience and best practices, and assisting the coordination of law enforcement operational activities in the fight against firearms trafficking. EFE also encourages the implementation of the activities under the Firearms priority of the European Multidisciplinary Platform against Crime Threats(EMPACT).