In September 2005, the Commission proposed amending its 2002 rules and introduced the idea of placing armed air marshals on flights. Parliament and Council supported the suggestion but stressed that placing armed officers on flights must remain subject to approval by states of departure, over-flight and arrival (EurActiv 13 October 2006).
One year later, following the exposure of a terrorist plot to smuggle liquid explosives onto aircrafts flying from the UK to the US (EurActiv 21/08/06), the EU adopted Community-wide rules limiting the size of hand luggage and the amount of liquid that can be taken on flights (EurActiv 28/09/06). The new rules have applied since 6 November 2006 but MEPs are demanding they be reviewed or even repealed due to the annoyance caused to passengers (EurActiv 06/09/07).
Passenger Name Records:
In order to comply with US anti-terror requirements, the Council signed an agreement with the latter, in May 2004, forcing European airlines to pass on information about passengers on planes flying to or through the US - including credit card details, email addresses, telephone numbers and hotel or car reservations - to US security authorities.
In September 2004, Parliament appealed to the European Court of Justice for the annulment of the agreement, arguing that it did not provide sufficient privacy protection for European passengers. The ECJ ruled, on 30 May 2006, that the Council decision was not “founded on an appropriate legal basis” and told the EU to renegotiate the deal (EurActiv 31/05/06). A deal was finally reached at the end of June (EurActiv 29/06/07), requiring air carriers to pass on data regarding European passengers to the US Department of Homeland Security. The deal has again been fiercely criticised by MEPs, which say it is no better than the previous one (EurActiv 13/07/07).
A similar scheme for transferring passenger data to European security services came into force in September 2004.
Transport security costs can be significant and public authorities’ attitude to funding varies widely in member states. In an August 2006 report, the Commission concludes that “the protection of European citizens against terrorist attacks is essentially a state responsibility” and that public financing for such measures does not constitute state aid.
The report also finds that government aid is unlikely to greatly distort competition because, whichever financing model is used - a centralised one where security is financed mainly by the state, or a decentralised one where security is paid for by airports - the passenger is always ultimately the main ‘funder’ through taxes or airline security charges. It nevertheless recommends more transparency and defining common principles for the funding of security measures to avoid distortions.
Transposition of International Maritime Organisation rules into EU law:
According to the March 2004 regulation on enhancing ship and port facility security, which incorporates maritime security measures adopted in 2002 by the IMO, each ship intending to enter a member state’s port must provide 24-hour advance information concerning ship and cargo safety.
Strengthening security in European ports:
Ports are not only focal points for shipments of dangerous cargo but also for major chemical and petrochemical production centres and, because they are often situated near cities, terrorist attacks could easily trigger knock-on effects on the surrounding industry and harm people in the neighbouring population. Additional measures on port security were therefore adopted by the Commission in October 2005, requesting that member states draw up port security plans, and entitling the Commission to conduct inspections to verify their effectiveness (EurActiv 10/02/04).
The EU co-operates with the US to eliminate potential terrorist threats from maritime container transport in the framework of the Container Security Initiative (CSI) launched in September 2004 (EurActiv 18/11/03).
As an addition to legislation on air, maritime and port security, the Commission proposed, in February 2006, a Regulation on enhancing the security of the entire supply chain. It established minimum European standards that freight operators should abide by in exchange for receiving a “secure operator” status from national authorities.
But transport operators and business associations protested that the scheme would simply increase costs massively, potentially crippling small businesses, while bringing only minor security benefits (EurActiv 04/09/06). The Dutch MEP in charge of steering the proposal through Parliament, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert (ALDE) took up these concerns and asked Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot to withdraw the draft Regulation. The commissioner decided, in December 2006, to freeze the proposal.
The attacks on commuter trains in Madrid on 11 March 2004 (191 killed) and on the Underground and a bus in London on 7 July 2005 (52 killed) also brought to the attention of EU politicians how vulnerable our public-transport systems are. The Commission has started consultations with the public transport sector on how to factor in security constraints from the start of the planning and design stages of installations and networks.