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European Union: EU Moves Toward More Air Cargo Security

(Nov. 19, 2010) On November 9, 2010, the European Union's Directorates-General for Justice and Home Affairs decided to enhance existing air cargo security rules. The decision was in response to recent events involving the discovery of two package-bombs in Britain and Dubai, sent from Yemen and destined for two synagogues in Chicago. It followed U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's announcement that Somalia, in addition to Yemen, should be included in the air cargo ban. (Derek Kravitz &Ashley Halsey III, US Tightening Air Cargo Security, THE WASHINGTON POST (Nov. 9, 2010),

Four days earlier, on November 5, 2010, at the request of the Belgian EU Presidency and the European Commission, the EU Aviation Security Committee (ASC) had held an extraordinary meeting with the aviation industry to evaluate how to respond adequately to the recent threats. (Communiqué: EU Aviation Security Experts Meeting –Brussels, 5 November 2010, in Press Release, Memo/10/545, RAPID, Air Cargo Security (Nov. 5, 2010),

The ASC agreed on the need to reinforce an integrated approach within the EU, as well as internationally, to provide a high level of security for EU citizens and contribute to suppressing the terrorist threat. In particular, the ASC agreed on the following principles:

· Security controls for cargo and mail should be based on assessment of risk and on a review of the quality of screening at the previous points of call, the nature of the cargo and its origins, the type of flight, whether there is all cargo or mixed passengers and cargo, and which airports are used for cargo transfer.

· Cargo and mail that enters the EU must meet all the EU legal requirements regarding security;

· Cooperation with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in developing global standards; and

· Improvement of training and enhancement of national control mechanisms, as well as provision of assistance to third countries through partnership agreements. (Id.)

Legal Regime for Air Cargo Security

At the EU level, the security regime for air cargo and mail has been regulated since 2003. The regime was revised in 2008 by Regulation No. 300/2008 and its implementing rules, applicable since April 2010. The regime is based on two major components: a) the secure supply chain and b) the security control of consignments. (Press Release, supra.)

Under the first component, EU Member States are authorized to recognize “regulated agents,” including freight forwarders, haulers, etc., provided that they meet strict security standards, such as training, background checks on personnel, and so on. The Member States may also validate companies that produce cargo as “known consigners,” provided that they meet certain legal requirements concerning the protection of cargo and training. Cargo sent from known consigners can be forwarded for transport by regulated agents without extra screening, under the condition that the cargo is securely protected until it is loaded onto an airplane. These rules must be fully implemented by EU Members by 2013. (Communiqué, supra.) As to the second component, freight consignments that are not under the control of regulated agents and do not go through the secure supply chain must undergo a physical screening, either through sniffer dogs or x–rays, before being loaded onto an airplane.
nce=MEMO/10/480&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN.) The European Commission will report to the EU Council of Transport Ministers on security matters. That Council will meet on December 2, 2010, to evaluate the air cargo security situation and discuss further steps to be taken, if needed. (Communiqué, supra.)