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Brussels, 24 June 2009

The Commission proposes a new policy to enhance chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear security in the EU

The European Commission has today adopted a policy package on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) security. The core of the package is the EU CBRN Action Plan. Resulting from an extensive consultation process, the proposed package represents a consensus of all stake-holders to protect EU citizens from these threats.

"This CBRN package is an important and timely initiative. Terrorist groups acquiring weapons of mass destruction, including CBRN materials, is the most frightening scenario." declared Vice-president Jacques Barrot, Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security. "Although Europe has fortunately not seen a large scale attack using these materials, the seriousness of the potential consequences for our societies is such that we cannot be complacent. The proposed package represents the EU contribution to support the efforts of the Member States in this field", he added.

Why is an EU approach needed?

The threat of terrorism has not disappeared and knows no borders. The latest threat assessments suggest that terrorist organisations aspire to obtain and use chemical, biological, radiological and even nuclear weapons. Although it is not easy for these groups to obtain and use these weapons, rapidly developing technologies and the wide-spread use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials for legitimate purposes make such aspirations more and more realistic.

The main aim of the package, which consists of a Commission Communication, an EU CBRN Action Plan and a Commission Staff Working Document called "Bridging Security and Health", is to support the ongoing efforts of the Member States in this field and to provide a framework for better coordination of and cooperation between all involved stakeholders.

What does the Commission propose in its CBRN package?

The core of the package is the EU CBRN Action Plan. The 133 measures included in the EU Action Plan are the result of a long consultation process with experts from national authorities of all EU Member States, EU institutions and agencies, as well as from the private sector and the research community. In line with these recommendations, the Commission proposes a broad approach to CBRN security ranging from prevention and detection to enhancing preparedness and response capacities.

The approach focuses on:

  • ensuring that unauthorised access to CBRN materials of concern is as difficult as possible ( prevention);

  • having the capability to detect CBRN materials ( detection);

  • being able to efficiently respond to incidents involving CBRN materials and recover from them as quickly as possible ( preparedness and response).

Implementation of the CBRN package

The measures included in the EU CBRN Action Plan will be implemented predominantly by already existing national, EU and international structures and using a broad variety of tools. The Directorate-General for Justice, Freedom and Security plans to allocate up to 100 million euro from existing financial programmes to support the implementation process over the period 2010-2013 – other Commission funding programmes – such as the Security Research programme under the 7 th framework Programme, will also contribute.

VP Barrot concluded: " The European Union is committed to ensuring that terrorist threats do not materialise. We believe that the CBRN package will contribute significantly to this commitment."

To find out more about Vice President Barrot's work please visit his website:

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