The European Commission has issued today a communication assessing the use
of security scanners at EU airports, at the request of the European Parliament
and Member States. In the wake of the terrorist attempt to use explosives on
the Amsterdam–Detroit flight on 25 December 2009, security scanners are being
increasingly used and are continuing to be trialled in several EU Member States
including the UK, the Netherlands, France and Italy. Security scanners as such
currently fall outside the scope of the EU regulations on aviation security —
there is a patchwork of regulation in different Member States. The report
published today highlights that this screening method offers a real possibility
to reinforce passenger security. The Commission is in favour of an EU approach
to ensure that, where Member States decide to use security scanners, their
deployment and operation is based on common standards, requiring basic
detection performance as well as ensuring a harmonised level of compliance with
European fundamental rights and health provisions. It will seek the views of
the European Parliament and of the Council in the light of the factual
information gathered in the report.
Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport,
said: "Security scanners are being used by an increasing number of
Member States across the EU, but at the moment their use falls outside the
scope of EU law, so they are used in Member states in different ways. Security
scanners are not a panacea, but they do offer a real possibility to further
reinforce passenger security. It is for each Member State to decide to
authorise the use of scanners in national airports. That will not change. But
where this scanning technology is used it should be covered by EU-wide
standards on detection capability as well common safeguards to ensure
compliance with EU health and fundamental rights provisions."
Issues regarding the use of security scanners arose because of a serious
incident that took place on flight NW 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on 25
December 2009, when a terrorist attempted to use explosives concealed on his
body which were not detected by metal detectors. At the request of the European
Parliament and the Member States, the Commission has adopted today its report
on the use of security scanners at EU airports. The report assesses the impact
of the use of this screening method in terms of detection performance and
compliance with fundamental rights and health protection.
The report concludes that security scanners may be considered as offering a
reliable and effective screening method which detects metallic and non-metallic
objects carried by a person. In addition, it would be possible to address
concerns about health and fundamental rights that have been raised, provided
they are used under appropriate conditions.
Several EU Member States already deploy security scanners at their airports
using various technologies and establishing various operational conditions for
their use. This has resulted in varying rules being used across the EU.
Security Scanners represent a possible avenue which can be pursued towards
the goal of reinforcing Europe's aviation security framework while facilitating
travel. International cooperation, technology and enhanced profiling are
equally useful tools that can be used to guarantee the security of
The Commission is transmitting this report to the Council and the European
Parliament. In the light of the outcome of discussions, it may table proposals
for an EU legal framework for the use of security scanners at EU airports.