The Commission adopted, on 31 July 2007, a regulation that will enable air passengers from third countries, which have bought duty free liquids abroad and are transiting through the EU, to hold on to their purchases.
Since last November, any quantity of liquid bought in a duty free shop outside the EU, which is greater than the limited amounts currently permitted in hand-baggage (100ml) must be abandoned at the EU airport for security reasons (EurActiv 3/11/07).
This has not only caused annoyance and delays during screening, it has also led to the creation of veritable “wine lakes” at European airports.
The new regulation will allow the Commission to grant exemptions to third countries once it has verified that they apply equivalent aviation security standards, thus allowing liquids bought in duty free shops there to be allowed on internal EU flights.
"We must strike the right balance between rigorous aviation security and the convenience of passengers. This new regulation is a step in the right direction. It paves the way for getting rid of unnecessary disruption for transit passengers who are arriving from airports outside the EU that have been found to apply equally strict aviation security standards as regards liquids as we do," said Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot.
The Commission is expected to announce the first exemptions this autumn.
European airports welcomed the move saying that the current sitation was causing "far-reaching repercussions for airports across Europe, both operationally and financially" as they were forced to confiscate "unsustainably large" volumes of liquids on a daily basis.
The European Travel Retail Council (ETRC) also welcomed the announcement, stating: “This is a big step forward for the travel-retail industry as a whole, giving the opportunity for recognised airports to sell as normal to all EU bound passengers.
ETRC President Frank O’Connell added: “It is absolutely imperative that duty free operators move quickly to get their governments engaged with the European Commission in Brussels.”