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Brussels, 5 October 2006

Aviation security: the EU acts against new threats from liquid explosives

The European Commission adopted a regulation today restricting the liquids that passengers can carry past screening points and then onto aircraft. This comes as a reaction to another threat to civil aviation security stemming from home made liquid explosives.

“The threat of liquid explosives is real and generic. The new regulation will plug a gap in our defences, by restricting the liquids that passengers can carry past screening points and on board aircraft. It will apply to all departing flights in order to protect people everywhere in the Union”, stressed European Commission Vice-President in charge of Transport, Mr. Jacques Barrot.

On 10th August this year an apparent plot to set off bombs on aircraft flying to the United States using liquid explosives was discovered. The Commission has acted rapidly to restrict the liquids that passengers can carry past screening points and then on-board aircraft. The new regulation prevents passengers carrying liquids past screening points, whether on their persons or in their cabin baggage. It applies to all flights departing from airports in the European Union, regardless of their destination and the nationality of the carrier, so that there is the same level of protection throughout the European Union. The regulation affects cabin baggage only, as hold baggage is inaccessible once checked in.

The new rules apply to all liquids, as present-day screening equipment cannot distinguish one type from another sufficiently fast to be used at airports. However passengers are permitted to take quantities too small to make dangerous explosives (in containers not exceeding 100 millilitres in capacity) past screening points. They can therefore still carry small amounts of toiletries and perfume in their cabin baggage. The new regulation also makes an exception for medicines and dietary requirements needed during a trip, including baby food. Travellers can continue to carry them in their cabin baggage.

Passengers can also continue to take liquids, such as drinks and perfumes, obtained beyond the points where boarding passes are controlled, on board aircraft. The regulation lays down precautions to prevent tampering or interference after purchase.

The Commission has carefully considered the effects of the new rules on screening at airports. It is essential to minimise any delays, but without compromising security. The regulation therefore includes certain measures to help screeners do their job. For example, passengers have to pack the containers of 100 millilitres or less in plastic bags no more than one litre in capacity and present them at screening points.

Furthermore, the new rules require passengers to remove coats and jackets at security checkpoints and for laptops and large electrical items to be removed from bags.

Finally the Regulation will in 6 months limit the size of cabin baggage allowed to a maximum of 56 cm x 45 cm x 25 cm, with possibilities for some exemptions e.g. for musical instruments, cameras, etc.
The Commission will actively assist the Member States and the associations representing airlines and airports in their efforts to inform passengers before the regulation comes into force, which is expected to be in early November.

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