Brussels, 5 May 2014
Boosting Europe's defence against terrorism
How can the EU work to prevent chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials
and explosives (CBRN-E) from ending up in the hands of terrorists? Today, the European
Commission is proposing to strengthen Europe's efforts to better detect explosives and
dangerous materials, intensify research across Europe, and build awareness in Member
Terrorist attacks such as those in Madrid, London, Moscow and at the Boston Marathon
illustrate the high level of innovation of attackers, and the relative ease with which some
CBRN-E materials and components can be obtained.
That is why today, the European Commission proposes to facilitate practical cooperation
for the detection and mitigation of CBRN-E risks at EU level, including working with the
industry, operators of facilities handling CBRN-E materials (equipment manufacturers and
security services providers) and other stakeholders. Concrete tools will be developed,
ranging from guidance materials, training and awareness building, and testing activities.
"We are faced with a clear reality: Terrorists and criminal organisations want get their
hands on CBRN-E weaponry. We need to intensify our work across borders to prevent that
from happening. By strengthening our common efforts, we will be able to better recognise
and assess risks, and develop effective security standards", said Cecilia Malmström, EU
Commissioner for Home Affairs.
The Commission proposes concrete actions aiming at:
- A more effective detection, including to better address insider threats (for instance
through improved vetting procedures of personnel involved in the whole supply chain of
explosives and CBRN-E materials), and to test CBRN-E detection equipment through
practical trials.
Most recently, the Commission has worked with the Belgian Police units and the EU
Council security staff on training and developing the methodology for the use of
advanced mobile CBRN-E detection equipment.
Mobile detection units were deployed and tested during the recent EU-Africa Summit and
U.S. Presidential visit to Brussels. The EU Council headquarters have been scanned prior
and during the different Summits for both liquid and solid explosive, chemical,
radiological and nuclear threats to ensure security. Also, at several Brussels train and
metro stations, non-intrusive detection methods were used to detect explosives,
chemical, radiological and nuclear threats. The detection equipment, in the form of lightweight portable electrical devices, yields results in real-time within seconds.
These trials provided valuable information on how to carry out threat-detection missions
in different environments, such as critical infrastructure and transportation hubs. The
Commission intends to launch more practical trials of detection equipment in other areas
of public security in 2014-2015 to continue mapping best practices for protection.
- Using better research, testing and validation:
Under the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) around 60 CBRN-related projects have been
funded (around €200 million) and more than 15 projects with a focus on explosives (over
€67 million). The new EU research programme Horizon 2020 will continue this work. From
a policy perspective, it is important to ensure that the results of research activities are
better disseminated and translated into useful commercial products, that respond to law
enforcement and other end-users' needs, as well as policy needs.
- Promoting awareness building, training and exercises:
More work will be done to enhance training initiatives, and improve awareness and
capacity building through sharing best practices and developing guidance material. In mid2014, the Commission will publish a handbook for airport protection of civilians, carried
out within the EU Airpol police network. Such guidance material would then be
disseminated and used by practitioners across Member States.
- Support efforts outside the EU:
CBRN-E threats are not limited by physical borders. The Commission will support
preparedness and detection measures in third countries where appropriate, in particular
through technical assistance, training, and sharing of information and best practices.
Securing CBRN and explosive materials has been part of the Commission's work since
Following the 2012 progress reports of the EU CBRN Action Plan and the Action Plan on
Enhancing the Security of Explosives, key priorities have been set, together with EU
Member States, in order to establish a CBRN-E Agenda to prevent, prepare and respond to
incidents involving such materials.
Today's Communication is a first step in implementing this CBRN-E Agenda, through a
more proactive EU approach to detection, based on concrete activities, to ensure that the
CBRN-E supply chain is robust enough.
Useful Links
Communication on a new approach to the detection and mitigation of CBRN-E risks at EU
Cecilia Malmström's website
Follow Commissioner Malmström on Twitter
DG Home Affairs website
Follow DG Home Affairs on Twitter
Contacts :
Michele Cercone (+32 2 298 09 63)
Tove Ernst (+32 2 298 67 64)
For the public: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 or by e-mail