National Firearms Focal Points: Ukraine’s Quest for EU Best Practices

November 17, 2023

In the complex web of European policies combating the threat of illegal firearms, National Firearms Focal Points (NFFP) are a crucial element. They intertwine legal control, intelligence, ballistic analysis, investigation, and prevention. For Ukraine, aspiring to align itself with the European Union, the operationalisation of NFFP is a vital part of embracing the EU acquis and fighting organised crime, including firearms trafficking.

On 13-16 November, EUAM Ukraine, in collaboration with the General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police, organised a study visit to Bucharest, Romania, for Ukrainian prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and forensic experts. The aim was to learn best practices for the operationalisation of NFFP, also fostering discussions on future cooperation between Ukraine and Romania in the fight against illicit arms trafficking.

Romania stands out as a beacon of progress in this field among the EU Member States, generously sharing its expertise to support Ukraine’s European integration efforts.

Insights into Romania’s establishment of NFFP, exploration of guiding documents, and the exchange of firearms-related information provided valuable lessons for Ukrainian partners eager to enhance their capabilities.

At the core of the discussions were plans to synchronise the Ukrainian firearms register with international databases. The focus extended to forensic examination practices and the exchange of ballistic information. Additionally, participants delved into Romania’s legislative framework, exploring criminal liability concerning the illegal trafficking of firearm components and the failure to surrender firearms post-expiry of relevant permits.

Also, EUAM Ukraine experts and Ukrainian participants were introduced to the potential benefits of engaging with the European Firearms Experts (EFA), a European-level multilateral organisation dedicated to combating illicit trafficking in firearms, including contributions from Ukraine.

Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine Igor Mustetsa expressed his gratitude to the organisers of this study visit, noting that despite martial law in place, Ukraine is committed to continuing reforms and reinforcing the rule of law.

A prevailing theme throughout the visit was cooperation. The exchange of ideas and practices between Ukraine and Romania not only strengthened Ukraine’s institutional capacity but also represented a continuation of EUAM’s efforts to support its Ukrainian partners in combatting illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons.