Brussels, 2 December 2010
A European action plan to strengthen air cargo security
Vice-President Siim Kallas and Commissioner Cecilia Malmström present today at the Transport Council and Home Affairs Council, as agreed with the Belgian Presidency, a European action plan to strengthen air cargo security. The action plan is a response to the recent discovery of explosive devices concealed in air cargo originating from Yemen. The action plan will allow the emergency security measures put in place by several EU Member States to be replaced by a joint EU approach to address the new threat caused to civil aviation.
The transport Commissioner, Siim Kallas, said: "Security standards at European airports are widely acknowledged as being amongst the highest in the world. Our legislation already sets out stringent standards for air cargo security, but the threat is evolving and we must keep our defences under constant review. That is why we convened rapidly a high-level group involving Commission and Presidency to draw up a joint set of EU actions to address the new threat within a short timeframe. I call on the Council to endorse the action plan."
The Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ms Cecilia Malmström, added that "to ensure an adequate response to terrorist threats a more streamlined cooperation and coordination between the transport and justice and home affairs sector must be developed at EU level. This challenge is of crucial importance to aviation security but goes far beyond this specific threat. In its recent communication on the EU Internal Strategy in Action, the Commission has set out its broader reflections on how the EU should respond in order to improve common EU risk assessments, increase transport security and enhance resilience."
The measures proposed
The high-level group argues for a holistic approach to strengthen air cargo security, by following a series of strategies simultaneously.
1. New harmonised EU cargo and mail security controls
The Commission will reconvene the air cargo working group - Member State and industry experts who have previously provided significant and valuable input into all EU cargo provisions – to advise on all necessary regime changes.
Working with this group, the Commission will bring forward new measures in relation to cargo originating from non-EU countries. The proposals will also draw on experience gained in the customs sector, using a risk-based approach and requiring more advance information about shipments.
Criteria to identify cargo presenting a particular risk will be defined as well as a mechanism to allow for the evaluation of security standards of airports outside of the EU. Specific commitments on consignment security will be sought from EU carriers operating from non-EU countries. The Commission is ready to quickly organise a joint EU mission to Yemen to assess the specific risk situation.
Member States will be encouraged to implement as soon as possible, the additional requirements for EU known consignor validation, which has to be fully implemented in any case by April 2013.
Consideration will be given to the development of standardised training packages, to ensure harmonised understanding of the EU rules.
Research will be conducted in order to enhance existing screening methods and technologies for cargo and develop new possibilities.
The EU inspection regime will be expanded to ensure that the agreed security controls are properly implemented on the ground. Member States will also be strongly encouraged to give greater priority to air cargo in their national inspection programmes.
2. EU coordination
It is vital that information about incidents, new threats and emergency measures is shared as quickly as possible, so that new threats and risks can be tackled immediately. Steps will be taken to establish, facilitate and strengthen such information flows.
A common all-source EU threat assessment capability will also be developed, with input from all relevant agencies at Member State and EU level. On this basis, the Commission will produce aviation security risk assessments on a regular basis. Member States committed themselves to produce their own national assessments and inform systematically Europol and Eurojust of all serious incidents.
3. Global approach
Cargo and mail is by its nature a global business. The sound implementation of a cargo security regime requires a global approach.
information sharing via the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) should be strengthened.
the latest revision to the ICAO Convention Annex 17, which enhances cargo security rules, should be swiftly implemented by ICAO contracting states; adequate guidance should be developed and provided to help implement its standards and recommended practices.
ICAO audits and capacity-building initiatives should be used as primary tools to strengthen aviation security, including cargo supply chains in non-EU countries. The EU should play an active role in these activities as such actions will not only improve the security in non-EU countries but will also vastly benefit global trade.
The members of the high-level group are confident that this coordinated and multi-layered approach will provide the strongest defence against possible future terrorist attacks.
The report and action plan on enhancing aviation security were discussed today by both the Council of Transport Ministers and the Council of Home Affairs Ministers.