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Most commonly, terrorists have used explosives to inflict casualties and damage. Home-made explosives, fabricated from certain easily accessible chemical precursors, are a preferred tool for perpetrators of terrorist attacks. The Europol TE-SAT reports indicate that these continue to pose a serious threat to the EU. Therefore, the Commission's efforts concentrate on ensuring greater security of explosives, bomb-making equipment and technologies that contribute to the perpetration of terrorist acts.

EU Action Plan on the security of explosives

While the usefulness of explosives for industrial purposes is beyond doubt, policy-makers must reduce the possibility of their misuse for terrorist purposes to ensure the security of citizens. This can only be achieved through the active contribution of all stakeholders at EU, national and industry level. This rationale formed the basis of the 2008 EU Action Plan on Enhancing the Security of Explosives . The Action Plan contains 48 measures related to prevention, detection and response, as well as horizontal measures, such as the development of information sharing mechanisms and platforms, supporting research and working with partners both in and outside the EU. A review of the EU Action Plan was undertaken in 2012. An overview of its implementation by the Member States and EU bodies is provided in the 2012 Progress Report on the Implementation of the EU Action Plan on Enhancing the Security of Explosives pdf - 131 KB [131 KB] .

The Stockholm Programme emphasised the need to implement the Action Plan and to provide better information on the security of explosives. In addition, it called for the development of a legislative framework to address the dangers associated with the use of chemical precursors in explosives. On 2 September 2014, Regulation (EU) No 98/2013 on the marketing and use of explosives precursors  will enter into force with a view to enhancing protection of citizens from the threat of terrorism. The Regulation, which shall apply from 2 September 2014, establishes a tighter regulatory regime for high-risk chemical explosives precursors to reduce their accessibility to the general public (private individuals). The Commission, in consultation with Member states and relevant stakeholders, has issued a Guidelines document pdf - 587 KB [587 KB]  to facilitate its implementation.

With regard to the future policy approach, discussions have been on-going in different fora with a view to prepare a Commission policy document setting out a more strategic and coherent approach regarding CBRN materials and explosives (E). In November 2012, draft Council conclusions on the new CBRNE Agenda were adopted confirming the need for such a revised approach.

Reducing risks

Work on reducing the risk of misuse of certain chemicals to fabricate home-made explosives is carried out within the Standing Committee on Precursors (SCP). The SCP has already contributed to the amendment of the Limitations Directive (now incorporated into the REACH legislation) that reduced access to highly concentrated ammonium nitrate fertilisers, which have been misused to produce home-made explosives. In addition, the SCP assists the Commission in its work to further reduce the risks related to the misuse of precursors. The Action Plan promotes other preventive measures, such as the tightening of security along the entire supply chain of commercial explosives in the EU, including in production, transport, storage, commercialisation and final use.

An expert working group consisting of representatives from national security institutions and EU bodies has been set up to deal with the specific issue of detecting explosives and their precursor chemicals. It develops relevant detection scenarios to identify possible technology gaps.

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