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Brussels, 4 September 2006

Green Paper on detection and associated technologies in the work of law enforcement, customs and other security authorities

The European Commission has today adopted a Green Paper on detection and associated technologies in the work of law enforcement, customs and other security authorities.


In its "Communication on Prevention, preparedness and response to terrorist attacks" of October 2004, the Commission sets out its counter-terrorism policy, highlighting Public-Private Security Dialogue as a tool for private and public sectors to engage in a meaningful dialogue on Europe's security needs.

The Hague Programme: strengthening freedom, security and justice in the European Union adopted by the European Council in November 2004, which constitutes at present the political programme of the Union on Justice and Home Affairs, also highlights the importance of public-private interaction in the fight against organised crime and terrorism. This Green Paper aims to provide the ingredients for initiating such dialogue within the field of detection technologies.

Detection technologies are increasingly used in the daily work of security authorities to fight terrorism and other forms of crime: detection technologies are widely used to protect passengers when boarding aeroplanes and sports fans when watching their favourite sports events, and to detect dangerous substances in the air, water or food. Security authorities also use these technologies to protect our borders and check goods entering the territory of the European Union. Moreover, detection technologies are essential for guarding private property and critical infrastructure.

This Green Paper aims to find out what role the Union could play in order to foster detection technologies in the service of the security of its citizens.

On the other hand, detection technologies are inherently intrusive into privacy and their improvement and use needs to be carefully analysed, in order to establish limitations to their intrusiveness where necessary.

On 28-29 November 2005, the Commission organised in Brussels the conference Public-Private Security Dialogue: Detection Technologies and Associated Technologies in the Fight against Terrorism. The participation of over a hundred representatives both from major European business and industry associations and from the public sector attested to the interest of stakeholders in pursuing a policy in this area. The public sector was represented by members of law enforcement, customs and other security authorities. This Green Paper is based on the results of the conference.

This Green Paper aims at enhancing the interaction between public and private sectors

Although the role of the EU, in areas such as security research or standardisation, is clearly established, there is no European policy on detection technologies as such. The Commission therefore took this initiative to enhance dialogue and create partnership between public and private sectors, allowing for better focussing investment in standardisation, research, certification or interoperability of detection systems and for transforming research results into useful and applicable tools.

Common action and better coordination and information exchange between the relevant entities in Europe are essential to reach this objective. Needs have to be defined better and both technologically and economically viable solutions brought to the surface. This Green Paper wishes to find out more about existing good approaches and practices, and to support them and spread them across the Union.

This should help promote the development of an advanced market in detection products and securitised solutions, which in turn should lead to greater availability of products and services at lower cost.

Content of the Green Paper

The role of Europe, in areas such as security research or standardisation, is clearly established. Although considerable work has been achieved in certain areas in close cooperation with the Member States, industry and other interested parties, there is still room for an enhanced European policy on detection technologies as such.

The Commission activities in relation to terrorism focus on specific needs for establishing an effective Public Private Security Dialogue (PPSD). Currently, there are a number of activities under way. The most developed process is in relation to the critical infrastructure protection. Among other areas where substantial activities are being pursued belong: the role of the detection technologies and explosives.

The Green Paper addresses the following issues:

  • Standardisation;
  • Certification of tools;
  • Information and experience exchange on the use of new and innovative detection tools;
  • The focus is also on integrating detection systems able to detect various substances into one tool or a system;
  • Looking at the procedures of how best to deploy and use detection tools (to shorten times for waiting, increase efficiency, etc.);
  • Improvement of the protection of mass events.

Detection technologies can be "in situ" or external and probably the more sophisticated means to deal with some of the security challenges in various scenarios are when integrated into the complex system (such as transport system). A detection technology can be almost anything used to detect something in a security or safety context, with the focus on law enforcement, customs or security authority. It is possible to identify several categories which, if taken into consideration when responding to the questions outlined in this document, may help to sharpen the answers:

  • Hand-held detectors
  • Detection portals
  • Surveillance solutions
  • Detection of biometrics
  • Data- and text-mining tools
  • Other software-based detection tools, etc.

The Commission stresses that the design, manufacture and use of detection technologies and associated technologies, together with legislation or other measures aiming to regulate or promote them, must fully comply with Fundamental Rights as provided for in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. Particular attention must be paid to compliance with the protection of personal data and the right to private life.


The consultation on the paper will end by the end of this year. Broad participation of stakeholders from both public and private sectors is essential. First, meetings of task force or other public private body implementing the results may take place in the first half of 2007.

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