MEPs call for European arms embargo

Peruvian soldiers using Belgian FN F2000 assault rifles. [Brian J. Slaght/Wikimedia]

Following the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, two French MEPs have called for tighter restrictions on weapons in the EU. EURACTIV France reports.

The French Socialist MEPs Virginie Rozière and Eric Andrieu published the request yesterday (Wednesday 13 January) ahead of the presentation of the Commission’s new Firearms Directive in the European Parliament.

Members of the Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee (LIBE) will discuss the proposal this afternoon (Thursday 14 January).

“Two months on from the tragic events of 13 November, Europe must assume its responsibilities and the European Parliament must address the issue as a matter of urgency and adopt this directive quickly,” the two politicians stated.

The European Commission’s proposal was first announced on 18 November 2015, just days after the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.


The draft directive, which is presented as a European response to the January 2015 attacks against the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, develops a new set of common rules regarding the marking and traceability of firearms.

“This draft directive should make it more difficult to acquire firearms in the European Union, and prevent the threat of illegal weapons falling into the hands of terrorists,” Virginie Rozière said.

Improvements to the way in which member states share information are also proposed in the draft directive, including the enforcement of systematic data sharing on any individual whose firearms licence application has been refused.

Ban on semi-automatic weapons

A ban on certain semi-automatic weapons is also among the measures outlined in the text. Private ownership of these weapons will no longer be permitted, and the rules governing online purchasing will be strengthened.

“It is clearly vital to improve the traceability of legally held weapons, as the European Commission proposes, but we need above all to tackle the weapons black market efficiently. It is essential to strengthen cooperation between member states to guarantee that deactivated weapons are made completely inoperable,” the MEPs stated.

European embargo

Beyond the tightening of controls on firearms within the EU, the French Socialist MEPs also argued for the establishment of a “European embargo on arms exports” to “countries with direct or indirect links to terrorism”.

A number of European countries export arms to conflict zones or to countries with indirect links to terrorist networks, like Saudi Arabia or Qatar.

According to Amnesty International, France supplied weapons to Libya under Colonel Gaddafi and to Syria between 2005 and 2009, as well as to Egypt, Israel and Chad. The NGO calculated that 78% of the world’s weapons come from six countries: Germany, China, the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Russia.

The international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that came into force on 24 December 2014 has already been ratified by the majority of European countries. This treaty established a number of rules to curb the flow of arms to countries where they may be used to commit genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.

Of the top ten arms exporters, only five are among the 72 states that have already ratified the ATT: Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the United Kingdom. 

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