Learn more about Instability, Organized Crime And Terrorist Groups, within the European Union in this comprehensive guide.
The proliferation of illegal small arms and light weapons in and around the European Union has resulted in instability, organized crime and terrorist groups.
Although the end of the cold war has significantly reduced the threat of nuclear war, it has also resulted in an increase in the number of local wars and civil conflicts throughout the world fought primarily with small arms and light weapons.
Large quantities of small arms are in circulation today moving from one armed conflict to another, a process abetted by brokers, local arms dealers and certain producer governments.Weapons are being transferred regularly to regions of conflict in Africa,Asia and the Middle East, from areas with weak export controls and large surplus stocks, such as the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
However,more recently, traditionally safer areas such as Western Europe have also been adversely affected by the spread of small arms. Although the influx of weapons into the European Union (EU) is not overwhelming, there is a regular trickle of small arms primarily from the Balkan region, as well as from Eastern Europe,which could increase as the EU and the Schengen Rim both expand to the east and south–east.
The collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Warsaw Pact and the wars in former Yugoslavia have resulted in a relaxation of border controls and an excess supply of light weapons, some of which have found their way into Europe. Small arms and light weapons (SALW) have fed the local criminal underworld as well as European terrorist groups, such as the Real IRA, thus contributing to the undermining ofWest European public safety.
The EU looks set for significant expansion, which will compound the difficulties facing the control of illegal weapons proliferation, especially given that in some of the potential candidate countries, eg Cyprus, the components of former Yugoslavia, and to a lesser extent Hungary, organised crime is particularly strong. Moreover, as the EU expands, its outer rim will be policed and protected by state security forces and customs officials that may be less well–trained and capable overall than their current counterparts.The spread of crime and instability, especially to the southern regions of Europe, could lead to further proliferation of light weapons in the region and eventually into the EU.
There is potential for a future light weapons proliferation crisis within the EU, which is normally considered a secure area, and therefore needs to be assessed.
Detailed in this document:
2. Main findings
4. Methodology and sources
5. SALW in the European Union: Country Studies
- United Kingdom
- The Netherlands
- Italian organized crime
6. SALW in EU Candidate Countries: Country Studies
- Czech Republic
7. SALW among terrorist groups in Europe
- Separatist movements
- Northern Ireland
- The Basque Country
- Right– and left–wing terrorism
8. Assessment of external sources of illegal
- SALW in the European Union