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Brussels, 22 September 2005

The European Commission proposes strengthening the common air security rules

The Commission today proposed revising the air security regulation adopted following the attacks on 11 September 2001 which was intended to establish common standards between all EU States to deal with the terrorist threat. This legislation, which has been in force for nearly three years, has made it possible to strengthen security in the aviation sector and harmonise control. However, the 40 or so inspections carried out by the European Commission since February 2004 to check for proper application have identified a number of shortcomings and needs and the Commission is therefore today proposing this revision. Community competence will be extended to cover in-flight security measures and air traffic from third countries. In the words of Jacques Barrot, Vice-President responsible for transport: “The protection of aviation against terrorist attacks has considerably improved since the 2001 attacks. Nonetheless, the new regulation will enable us to be more effective and react faster to a threat which is constantly changing. I therefore confirm that priority has been given to the safety and security of transport”.

Today’s proposal follows on from the Commission’s annual report on the implementation of the 2002 Regulation,[1] which draws conclusions from the inspections carried out by the Commission since February 2004. These have shown that, despite some shortcomings, security in European Union airports has been substantially strengthened and harmonised through the establishment of the Community regulation. However, the report underlines a number of possible improvements:

  • Firstly, to be more effective and respond quickly to the threat, it must be made easier to modify the more technical aspects of the legislation to adapt to technological progress and make adjustments based on inspection findings and the lessons learnt from combating terrorism.
  • Secondly, some common requirements need to be clarified and simplified to make the rules more coherent and easier to apply and to prevent the shortcomings found in some airports, which often required urgent remedial action, from being reproduced.
  • Thirdly, existing rules need to be extended to be able to lay down common rules for freight and in-flight security, as is the case with passenger controls at airports, and to allow for a common response to measures requested by third countries, where necessary.

For the record, the current legislation requires Member States to adopt national security and quality control plans and to guarantee that minimum common standards are applied by airport authorities and airlines. It also empowers the European Commission to carry out inspections and ensure that Community rules are properly applied. More than 40 inspections have been carried out since February 2004 enabling considerable improvements to be made. The Commission intends to pursue this course of action with vigour.

[1] Regulation (EC) No 2320/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2002 establishing common rules in the field of civil aviation security, Official Journal L 355, 30.12.2002.

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