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EU action plan on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear security

The communication presents the EU action plan on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) security, which provides an all-hazard approach focusing on the prevention and detection of, as well as preparedness and response to, CBRN threats.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 24 June 2009 on Strengthening Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Security in the European Union – an EU CBRN Action Plan .

SUMMARY

The risks posed by terrorist groups acquiring chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials require coordinated action based on an all-hazard approach to preventing and detecting such cases. In recent years, such measures have been taken at both national and European Union (EU) level.

Developments so far

The responsibility to respond to CBRN threats mainly lies with Member States, many of which are fairly well-equipped to coordinate actions nationally. For crises that have cross-border implications, EU level procedures and tools have been developed to support Member States. They consist of the Community Mechanism for Civil Protection and the Crisis Coordination Arrangements (CCA). In addition, the Health Security Committee and the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC) provide support for tackling health-related risks.

At EU level, actions to counter CBRN threats were first initiated at the Ghent European Council in 2001. Subsequently, the “Programme to improve cooperation in the European Union for preventing and limiting the consequences of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear terrorist threats” was adopted in 2002. This was followed by the EU Solidarity Programme on the consequences of terrorist threats and attacks adopted in 2004, which was incorporated into the Strategy and Action Plan on Combating Terrorism adopted in 2005. The instruments used in the EU external relations consist, in particular, of the EU Strategy against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (EU WMD Strategy), as well as of the Instruments for Stability, Nuclear and Security Cooperation (INSC) and Pre-Accession (IPA).

EU CBRN action plan

In February 2008, the Commission set up a CBRN Task Force to work on CBRN policy. Its final report of January 2009 provides the basis for the EU CBRN action plan. The main goal of CBRN policy is to minimise the threat and damage to the public from CBRN incidents through the:

  • use of a risk-based approach to security;
  • effective protection of CBRN materials;
  • improved exchanges of security-related information between Member States;
  • further development of detection systems in the EU;
  • provision of the necessary tools to manage CBRN incidents.

To this end, a coherent and prioritised EU action plan that involves all relevant stakeholders is implemented. It identifies three main areas of work:

  • prevention, which as the focal point of activity should first involve the use of risk-assessment to prioritise high-risk CBRN materials, and then focus on the security and control of these materials and the related facilities;
  • detection, which is seen as an essential supplement to prevention, as well as necessary for response. Consequently, detection systems should be set up within Member States and at the external borders of the Union. At EU level, minimum CBRN detection standards will be developed, testing and certification schemes will be established, and the exchanges of good practices will be enhanced;
  • preparedness and response, for which the existing measures should be further developed, with particular attention given to emergency planning, information flows, modelling tools, and countermeasure and criminal investigation capacity.

These areas of work are supported by various horizontal measures.

The action plan will mainly be implemented under existing structures, such as the Community Civil Protection Mechanism and the Civil Protection Financial Instrument. An EU CBRN Resilience Programme will also be launched in order to pool the civil protection actions of the plan. A CBRN Advisory Group will be set up to enable the Commission and the CBRN Task Force to continue collaborating during implementation.

The implementation of the action plan will be financed from existing programmes, primarily from the specific programmes “Prevention, Preparedness and Consequence Management of Terrorism and other Security related risks” and “Prevention of and Fight against Crime”. Additional financing may also be received from the Civil Protection Financial Instrument, the Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities and the EU Health Programme 2008-13. The implementation will be regularly monitored and followed up, with a review carried out on the action plan in 2013.

External relations

The EU WMD Strategy adopted in December 2003 is the main component of the EU external relations policy regarding CBRN. A later updating of the strategy resulted in “New lines for action by the European Union in combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems”, adopted in December 2008. Support for third countries is given in particular through the Instrument of Stability. Furthermore, regional centres of CBRN excellence and an Expert Support Facility mechanism will be established with a view to tackling CBRN risks internationally. Standard counter-terrorism and WMD clauses are also used in agreements with third countries.

Last updated: 18.12.2009
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