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European Commission proposes common rules against home-made explosives
Yesterday, the European Commission put forward a proposal to limit access to chemicals that can be misused to produce home-made explosives. The Regulation aims to reduce the threat of attacks committed with home-made explosives, thus enhancing EU citizens' security. In addition, producers and retailers would benefit from equal rules EU-wide.
"Home-made explosives are tools used very frequently by terrorists and other criminals to perpetrate attacks. We need to enhance controls and prevent terrorists from taking advantage of existing differences in security rules among EU Member States" said EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström.
Most terrorist attacks in the last years have used explosive devices, which have frequently been based on home-made explosives, fabricated from chemicals that are currently widely available to the general public. Home-made explosives were used, for instance, in the London bombings in 2005.
While several legislative and non-legislative measures exist at international, EU and national level, these are either not specifically focused on the security risks associated with certain chemicals or do not cover the entire EU. Chemicals that can be used to produce home-made explosives may be restricted or controlled in one country, while being easily obtained in another. In addition, market distortions can occur, preventing a level EU playing field in this area.
The Regulation proposed today would ensure the same level of control over access to certain chemicals in the whole EU. This will prevent terrorists and criminals from taking advantage of differences in security regimes amongst EU Member States.
Sales of products that contain certain chemicals, which are listed in the Annex of the Regulation, will be banned if this chemical exceeds a certain concentration. Most consumers will be able to use alternative products, which are already widely available, or will be able to obtain a license to continue purchasing these products. Some products will be further sold without any restrictions to consumers but their sales will be better controlled, for example through a mechanism for reporting suspicious transactions.
Work to enhance the security of explosives and the precursor materials used to produce home made explosives has been taken forward by the Commission since 2006. The Council approved in April 2008 the EU Action Plan on Explosives, following an initiative from the Commission adopted in November 2007.
The Regulation will be a binding instrument. It will enter into force 18 months after its adoption by the European Parliament and the Council. However, possession and use of the chemical substances and products containing them will still be allowed until 36 months after adoption.
For further information:
Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs:
EU Action Plan on Explosives :