The European Union Nov. 5 gave its security experts a month to draw up tighter air cargo security measures in the wake of two foiled bomb plots on U.S.-bound flights.
The European Commission, the EU's executive, will present concrete proposals at the next meeting of transport ministers from the bloc's 27 member states on Dec. 2, EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas said.
Kallas chaired a meeting in Brussels Friday of European aviation security experts who discussed ways of improving security and identifying loopholes in the air freight transport chain.
The meeting was prompted by the discovery Oct. 29 of one bomb at East Midlands airport in the UK after it arrived on a flight from Cologne, Germany, and another in Dubai. Both originated in Yemen.
On Friday, the UK introduced tougher security checks on air cargo shipments from the Middle East, south Asia and North Africa, revoking more than 30 transshipment exemptions.
"We need to focus on high risk countries and unknown cargo companies," Kallas told reporters after the meeting. "We must close the loopholes."
"We need to use a range of control methods … which would keep business running as well. We must not close the air cargo business … no flight, no risk … that's clear."
Kallas expressed concern that proposed security measures aimed at achieving "some kind of total coverage of all risk" might prove too burdensome for airlines and airports to implement.
Co-operation with other countries, particularly the U.S., is vital to ensure common security standards, he said.
Kallas said co-operation with Washington over security matters has improved considerably.
"We have today very good co-operation with the U.S., so nothing has been proposed by the U.S. that has surprised (us) … sometimes that has happened before."
EU interior and justice ministers will discuss aviation security at a scheduled meeting in Brussels on Nov. 8 and 9.
-- Contact Bruce Barnard at firstname.lastname@example.org.