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Brussels, April 29 2011

Commission advises that the lifting of 'duty-free' liquid restrictions be deferred

Today, Vice-President of the Commission, Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, is advising EU Member States to defer for a limited period the removal of restrictions on the carriage of duty free liquids in hand luggage, originally due on 29 April 2011. In recent days, a growing number of Member States decided to maintain the ban on carrying duty free liquids purchased in third countries beyond this date. The Commission advice is issued in order to avoid a situation which would not have facilitated travel but rather caused confusion for passengers. The Commission will conduct a review of the situation together with Member States and consult with the United States as one of the key destinations of flights from the EU.

"My main objective is to make life easier for air travellers," said Vice President Kallas. "However, it is clear that a situation at European airports which leads to confusion for air passengers as to whether they can travel or not with 'duty-free liquids', in particular for connecting flights to the United States, should be avoided. Therefore, the restrictions on carrying 'duty-free' liquids purchased outside the EU through European airports should remain in place until passengers can travel with certainty."

The EU is working towards removing all restrictions on the carriage of liquids in hand luggage by 2013. Passengers have not been allowed to travel with most liquids since 2006, thus obliging them to discard liquids carried in hand luggage at security checkpoints at European airports. The intention is to apply screening as a method for controlling liquids, rather than imposing bans.

An initial step forward on the road towards achieving that goal was to be implemented as of 29 April by screening 'duty-free' liquid purchases carried by air passengers arriving from outside the EU and transferring onto a connecting flight. Currently, passengers arriving in Europe with 'duty-free' liquids and transferring have to discard those liquids at the security checkpoint. This step is an important milestone and should be implemented as soon as possible.

Passengers will continue to be allowed to carry 'duty-free' liquids from all international airports in Canada and the United States, six airports in Croatia (Dubrovnik, Pula, Rijeka, Split, Zadar and Zagreb), Changi Airport in Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, under special rules that are already in place. Passengers arriving from those airports will still be able to transfer at European airports with their 'duty-free' liquids. Furthermore, passengers travelling with liquid purchases made at EU airports or on board EU air carriers may also transfer at European airports without restriction.

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