Brussels, 15 June 2010
Commission examines the use of security scanners at EU airports
The European Commission has issued today a communication assessing the use of security scanners at EU airports, at the request of the European Parliament and Member States. In the wake of the terrorist attempt to use explosives on the Amsterdam–Detroit flight on 25 December 2009, security scanners are being increasingly used and are continuing to be trialled in several EU Member States including the UK, the Netherlands, France and Italy. Security scanners as such currently fall outside the scope of the EU regulations on aviation security — there is a patchwork of regulation in different Member States. The report published today highlights that this screening method offers a real possibility to reinforce passenger security. The Commission is in favour of an EU approach to ensure that, where Member States decide to use security scanners, their deployment and operation is based on common standards, requiring basic detection performance as well as ensuring a harmonised level of compliance with European fundamental rights and health provisions. It will seek the views of the European Parliament and of the Council in the light of the factual information gathered in the report.
Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: "Security scanners are being used by an increasing number of Member States across the EU, but at the moment their use falls outside the scope of EU law, so they are used in Member states in different ways. Security scanners are not a panacea, but they do offer a real possibility to further reinforce passenger security. It is for each Member State to decide to authorise the use of scanners in national airports. That will not change. But where this scanning technology is used it should be covered by EU-wide standards on detection capability as well common safeguards to ensure compliance with EU health and fundamental rights provisions."
Issues regarding the use of security scanners arose because of a serious incident that took place on flight NW 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on 25 December 2009, when a terrorist attempted to use explosives concealed on his body which were not detected by metal detectors. At the request of the European Parliament and the Member States, the Commission has adopted today its report on the use of security scanners at EU airports. The report assesses the impact of the use of this screening method in terms of detection performance and compliance with fundamental rights and health protection.
The report concludes that security scanners may be considered as offering a reliable and effective screening method which detects metallic and non-metallic objects carried by a person. In addition, it would be possible to address concerns about health and fundamental rights that have been raised, provided they are used under appropriate conditions.
Several EU Member States already deploy security scanners at their airports using various technologies and establishing various operational conditions for their use. This has resulted in varying rules being used across the EU.
The Commission is in favour of a common European approach to security scanners to ensure that, when Member States decide to use security scanners, their deployment and operation is based on common standards, requiring basic detection performance and at the same time includes safeguards to ensure compliance with European fundamental rights and health provisions.
Security Scanners represent a possible avenue which can be pursued towards the goal of reinforcing Europe's aviation security framework while facilitating travel. International cooperation, technology and enhanced profiling are equally useful tools that can be used to guarantee the security of citizens.
The Commission is transmitting this report to the Council and the European Parliament. In the light of the outcome of discussions, it may table proposals for an EU legal framework for the use of security scanners at EU airports.