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Fight against terrorism: more security in EU air transport

Loyola de Palacio, European Commission Vice-President in charge of transport and energy welcomed last Friday the final adoption of the…

Loyola de Palacio, European Commission Vice-President in charge of transport and energy welcomed last Friday the final adoption of the proposal on aviation security, a key initial piece of EU legislation. The purpose of the new rules is to guarantee throughout the European Union the provision of a high level of security in civil aviation through harmonised mandatory common rules for civil aviation security. Loyola de Palacio explained The security of European citizens must be guaranteed: only the uniform, effective application of these measures will enable all Europeans to continue to have confidence in EU skies and airports. stated Loyola de Palacio. We must now implement quickly this Regulation, and, if necessary, to complete it for incorporating swiftly any new international agreement on security she added.

In the immediate aftermath of the tragic events of 11 September 2001, the Commission proposed a Regulation establishing common rules in the field of civil aviation security, which has just been definitively adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.

The common rules are based on the rules set out in Document 30 of the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) and aim at increased control of both international and domestic flights.

They are chiefly concerned with:

  • control of access to sensitive areas of airports and aircraft;

  • control of passengers and their hand luggage;

  • control and monitoring of hold luggage;

  • control of cargo and mail;

  • training of ground staff;

  • definition of specifications for the equipment for the above controls;

  • classification of weapons and others items which it is prohibited to bring on to aircraft or into the sensitive areas of airports.

The measures will be implemented gradually in a realistic manner to take account of the time needed to train personnel and alter infrastructure. Member States can adopt special measures, in the event of a more specific threat, or more stringent requirements if they deem it necessary.

For its part, the Commission intends to ensure that the Community measures are able to evolve in line with the nature of any threat. Therefore, the new legislation allows for the development of more detailed implementing legislation through the newly created Management Committee for Civil Aviation Security(1).

Over time this framework legislation will allow for covering in detail all elements of aviation security and develop additional detailed rules as and when deemed necessary. Indeed, work is already well advanced on bringing forward legislation for additional security requirements.

The regulation also requires that for the first time all Member States have national aviation security programmes and specifying basic security requirements. It also mandates the Commission to develop a European programme of security inspections to ensure that the legislation is being applied.

The new rules do not directly address the issue of the financing of additional security measures. The Commission has launched a study into the current situation of financing due for completion in the second half of 2003 and may, if appropriate, make a legislative proposal on the topic.

The implementation of this new Regulation will complement and reinforce the co-operation developed at international level.

(1) by means of comitology procedure