Frattini calls for increased research into detecting homemade explosives

October 12, 2006

Brussels, 11 Oct 2006

Commission Vice-President Franco Frattini, responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security, has called for increased involvement by the European research community in preparing an enhanced EU-wide security plan against terrorism. Speaking at a conference in Brussels on 10 October, Mr Frattini referred to the pre-cursors to explosives, which he said have 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,' said the Commissioner.

In 2005, the Commission published a communication in which it set out measures to ensure greater security from explosives, detonators, bomb-making equipment and fire-arms. Although the paper included recommendations on increasing research activities to ensure the detectability of homemade explosives and the need to reflect on policy options to prevent their misuse, the Commissioner says that the proposals were not exhaustive enough.

'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,' argued Mr Frattini.

'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,' he added.

To elaborate the plan, Mr Frattini spoke of setting up an Explosives-Security Expert Group. '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,' he said.

The Group would be tasked with, among other things, identifying the substances and the industries categorised within the EU Member States and in specialised scientific literature as posing a particular high risk, and examining scientific and technological solutions for modifying specific precursors, which would reduce the detonating power of explosives made from them.

The Commission Vice-President concluded by saying that the proposed structure should result in concrete recommendations for policy measures by July 2007. An EU Action Plan on enhancing the security from explosives based on these proposals will be ready by the end of 2007.

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