European Commission outlines action plan on air cargo security
European Commission VP Siim Kallas set out (29-Nov-2010) a series of recommentations on the EU's response to the 30-Oct-2010 security alert, when viable explosive devices were found in cargo shipments originating from Yemen and transferring to US-bound flights at airports in Germany and the UK. The recommendations included:
- New harmonised EU cargo and mail security controls:
- Legislation: Working closely with national and industry experts from the Air Cargo Working Group, the Commission will bring forward legislative proposals for cargo originating outside the EU. These proposals are likely to include actions to be taken by EU air carriers wishing to bring cargo from countries outside the EU. Many of these carriers already have security provisions in place for such operations. The first steps will be to define criteria for identifying cargo which represents a particular risk and to establish mechanisms to allow for the evaluation of security standards at non-EU airports. Member States will be encouraged to accelerate the implementation of the EU's system of supply chain security (known as "consignor validation") and to introduce the new requirements as much as possible before the Apr-2013 deadline. Validation of relevant parties in countries outside the EU should be considered in order to underpin the necessary security controls that exist there. This will mitigate the risk of consignments arriving from external countries and will have minimal impact on transfer cargo handling at EU airports;
- Enhanced cargo and mail inspections: Member States and the EC should as a matter of urgency strengthen the compliance monitoring of the cargo and mail rules. The EC has to date made 30 cargo inspections at Member State airports and the results of these inspections show that implementation of EU rules must be improved. The number of of EU inspections will be increased and Member States must take action to strengthen national monitoring programmes. The proper implementation of cargo rules is linked to effective staff training with the EC urging standardised training packages for staff involved in air security;
- Projects for improving detection technologies and future research: There will be further investment in research to improve the performance of current detection technologies and to come up with new possibilities. This will be carried out under the EU research framework programme and other initiatives.
- EU coordination: The EU urged better intelligence and threat information sharing stating it is "vital to ensure a prompt, effective and harmonised response to arising threats". A common EU threat assessment capability will be developed;
- Global approach: The EU stressed that a global approach is needed to improve security. It added that ICAO's latest revision to Annex 17 which enhances cargo security rules should be "swiftly implemented by its contracting states and adequate guidance should be developed and provided to help implement its standards and recommended practices". Additionally, ICAO audits and capacity building initiatives should be used as primary tools to strengthen aviation security, including cargo in non-EU countries. The EU should play an active role in these activities as such actions will not only improve the security in those countries but will also vastly benefit global trade. Although the terrorist plot on 30-Oct-2010 failed, it caused delays which cost companies around the world "millions of euros". The only way to make aviation transport more secure is by acting on a global scale. [more]