Boosting Europe's defence against terrorism
How can the EU work to prevent chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials and explosives (CBRN-E) from ending up in the hands of terrorists? Yesterday, the European Commission is proposing to strengthen Europe's efforts to better detect explosives and dangerous materials, intensify research across Europe, and build awareness in Member States.
Terrorist attacks such as those in Madrid, London, Moscow and at the Boston Marathon illustrate the high level of innovation of attackers, and the relative ease with which some CBRN-E materials and components can be obtained.
That is why the European Commission proposes to facilitate practical cooperation for the detection and mitigation of CBRN-E risks at EU level, including working with the industry, operators of facilities handling CBRN-E materials (equipment manufacturers and security services providers) and other stakeholders. Concrete tools will be developed, ranging from guidance materials, training and awareness building, and testing activities.
"We are faced with a clear reality: Terrorists and criminal organisations want get their hands on CBRN-E weaponry. We need to intensify our work across borders to prevent that from happening. By strengthening our common efforts, we will be able to better recognise and assess risks, and develop effective security standards", said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.
The Commission proposes concrete actions aiming at:
- A more effective detection, including to better address insider threats (for instance through improved vetting procedures of personnel involved in the whole supply chain of explosives and CBRN-E materials), and to test CBRN-E detection equipment through practical trials.
Most recently, the Commission has worked with the Belgian Police units and the EU Council security staff on training and developing the methodology for the use of advanced mobile CBRN-E detection equipment.
Mobile detection units were deployed and tested during the recent EU-Africa Summit and U.S. Presidential visit to Brussels. The EU Council headquarters have been scanned prior and during the different Summits for both liquid and solid explosive, chemical, radiological and nuclear threats to ensure security. Also, at several Brussels train and metro stations, non-intrusive detection methods were used to detect explosives, chemical, radiological and nuclear threats. The detection equipment, in the form of light-weight portable electrical devices, yields results in real-time within seconds.
These trials provided valuable information on how to carry out threat-detection missions in different environments, such as critical infrastructure and transportation hubs. The Commission intends to launch more practical trials of detection equipment in other areas of public security in 2014-2015 to continue mapping best practices for protection.
- Using better research, testing and validation:
Under the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) around 60 CBRN-related projects have been funded (around €200 million) and more than 15 projects with a focus on explosives (over €67 million). The new EU research programme Horizon 2020 will continue this work. From a policy perspective, it is important to ensure that the results of research activities are better disseminated and translated into useful commercial products, that respond to law enforcement and other end-users' needs, as well as policy needs.
- Promoting awareness building, training and exercises:
More work will be done to enhance training initiatives, and improve awareness and capacity building through sharing best practices and developing guidance material. In mid-2014, the Commission will publish a handbook for airport protection of civilians, carried out within the EU Airpol police network. Such guidance material would then be disseminated and used by practitioners across Member States.
- Support efforts outside the EU:
CBRN-E threats are not limited by physical borders. The Commission will support preparedness and detection measures in third countries where appropriate, in particular through technical assistance, training, and sharing of information and best practices.
Securing CBRN and explosive materials has been part of the Commission's work since 2006.
Following the 2012 progress reports of the EU CBRN Action Plan and the Action Plan on Enhancing the Security of Explosives, key priorities have been set, together with EU Member States, in order to establish a CBRN-E Agenda to prevent, prepare and respond to incidents involving such materials.
Today's Communication is a first step in implementing this CBRN-E Agenda, through a more proactive EU approach to detection, based on concrete activities, to ensure that the CBRN-E supply chain is robust enough.
Communication on a new approach to the detection and mitigation of CBRN-E risks at EU level
Cecilia Malmström's website
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