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Intervenção do Vice Presidente da CE Franco Frattini

European Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security “Enhancing the security of the EU against the threat of explosives”

Explosives have played a deadly role in terrorist attacks in Europe and elsewhere and the Commission is currently launching several initiatives to enhance the security of the EU against this threat. Explosives obtained from illicit sources can be divided into

• those smuggled into the EU,
• those manufactured legally and subsequently stolen or otherwise diverted to illegal possession within the EU and
• those illicitly manufactured.

The latter are becoming a growing concern since unlike more sophisticated explosives, the chemicals needed to make such types are common. They have many legitimate industrial and agricultural uses unrelated to making explosives.

Pre-cursors to explosives have also increasingly become a major concern from a security stand-point. Substances found in readily available products that can be bought over the counter are being increasingly used by terrorists and criminals to fabricate materials for home-made explosives and improvised explosive devices.

The Commission’s Communication of 2005 on measures to ensure greater security in explosives, detonators, bomb-making equipment and fire-arms did not address exhaustively the subject of precursors. Apart from recommending increased research activities to increase the detectability of homemade explosives and the need to reflect on policy options to prevent their misuse. That kind of reflection needs to be extended to all chemicals that have the potential for misuse.

Effective control and monitoring of precursor substances could prove to be a valuable tool in the fight against terrorism. However, there is a need for more research and a deeper analysis of the subject in order to propose any relevant and effective policy initiatives at EU level.

A policy on explosives should also be seen in conjunction with regard to devising appropriate measures to address the transmission of bomb-making or explosives expertise in various media and in particular on the internet. My services are also currently working on that area.

The Commission is of the belief that with the pooling of efforts by all concerned it could prepare a comprehensive EU-wide plan for the enhanced security of explosives in Europe in which industry and the research community become vital actors in the process.

The main focus should be on developing policy options at a European level based on what are found to be relevant and effective measures for the enhancement of the security of explosives. Common concrete measures to be implemented in Member States could also be proposed if it is concluded that EU action is not necessary.

As a follow-up to this conference the Commission will consider with a very favourable eye the setting-up up a structure (an Explosives-Security Expert Group) with the aim of tasking it with elaborating and submitting to the Commission an EU Action Plan for the enhancement of the security of explosives. This action plan could be conceived as a sub-set of the more general Counter-terrorism Action Plan/Strategy.

This structure must explore possible policy initiatives at EU level that will make the misuse of chemicals as difficult as possible for terrorists and criminals. While at the same time ensuring that any industries possibly concerned are not affected in a disproportionate way. Such policy options should be effective in terms of both results and costs and aim at not affecting concerned industries negatively.

The suggested public private structure should start with

• identifying the substances and the industries designated within the EU Member States and in specialised scientific literature as posing particular high risks,

• and the extent of their possibilities for misuse in terrorist or criminal attacks.

Two things should be done;

• An overview of existing solutions to tackle the problem that have been developed by Member States

• And an analysis of what type of EU level action would be appropriate and needed, if any.

Both legislative and voluntary measures should be examined. Examples of the latter being, for instance:

• channels for reporting of suspicious transactions or

• scientific and technological solutions to modify specific precursors to reduce the detonating power of explosives made from them.

Cooperation with the private sector is vital in this matter, and ways of developing a closer cooperation could be explored in collaboration with the private sector – manufacturers, retailers and other trade representatives.

The structure which we intend to create should also evaluate whether policy options undertaken in other fields that present similar problems could be used as models on which to develop policies on explosives. The policy for drug pre-cursors (Regulation (EC) No 273/2004) – which improves the monitoring and control of EU trade in chemicals known as drug precursors – should be considered as particularly relevant.

• Regulation (EC) No 273/2004 establishes requirements for operators wishing to place certain substances on the market, such as having a licence;

• Operators are also required to obtain a declaration from the customer, which shows the specific use of the substance;

• A copy of the declaration is to follow the substance during transport, thus allowing authorities responsible for checking vehicle contents to perform control of the substance.

• In addition, under the same Drug Precursors Regulation operators must ensure that all transactions leading to the placing on the market are properly documented, and must notify the competent authorities of any unusual orders or activities regarding the substances.

Some Member States do encourage or require reporting or recording of large or otherwise suspicious sales of key chemicals such as ammonium nitrate, and may encourage vendors not to sell them in large quantities to unknown or suspicious purchasers. Drug pre-cursors and pre-cursors to explosives have often different characteristics (although sometimes the same substances can be used as both drug and explosives precursors), but as for the overall objectives and measures, some ideas could probably be transferred from one sector to the other.

Furthermore, the structure that could be created will also be expected to evaluate the policy approaches that countries outside the EU like Australia and the United States have adopted to tackle the difficult problem of precursors to explosives. Any elements within those approaches that can be transferable to an EU scenario would be strongly welcome, keeping in mind the fundamental differences in legal systems and the specific nature of the European Union.

The Task Force must treat the subject in the most comprehensive manner, possibly highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of each policy option. Of course, a combination of policy options might be required and the reasons why a combination of a particular series of measures over another combination is deemed to be more efficient need to be highlighted too. Cost-effectiveness and the impact on industry must play a crucial part in the assessment. The policy options proposed must devise ways of developing extensive contact with the private sector, as well as with public stakeholders.

The work of the structure to be created should result in concrete proposals or recommendations for policy options by July 2007 which the Commission may take up in their proposal for an EU Action Plan for the enhancement of the security of explosives which should be adopted by the Commission in the autumn of 2007.

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