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  • Homemade explosives used in 40% of terrorist attacks in the EU 
  • New chemicals added to the list of banned substances 
  • Clearer licensing and screening systems for the sale of dangerous chemicals  

Plans to update rules on the use and sale of chemicals that could be used to make homemade explosives were backed by the Civil Liberties Committee on Monday.

The current rules restrict access to a number of chemicals that could be used to manufacture homemade explosives. Furthermore, suspicious transactions involving these explosive precursors have to be reported to the authorities. Despite this, homemade explosives were used in approximately 40% of terrorist attacks in the EU in 2015 and 2016, demonstrating clear gaps in existing procedures.

The Civil Liberties Committee agreed to strengthen the rules by:


  • adding new chemicals to the list of banned substances. This would include sulphuric acid which is used to produce TATP, the explosive used in the 2015 attacks in Paris, the Brussels attack in 2016 and the Manchester attack in 2017;

  • ending the current weak registration systems that allow people to buy restricted substances by simply presenting an ID card;

  • tightening the conditions for granting licences for the purchase and use of explosives precursors; the security screening would include a criminal record check;

  • obliging businesses to report suspicious transactions involving explosives precursors to the responsible authorities within 24 hours, and

  • clarifying that online marketplaces are equally covered by the rules on sale and on reporting of suspicious transactions.

The restrictions would not apply to professionals who need to use these chemicals in connection to their trade, craft or profession.

Quotes

Rapporteur Andrejs Mamikins (ALDE, LV) said: “The new regulation aims to prevent illegal bomb-making, like the very destructive TATP bombs, by restricting the sale of dangerous substances. We are setting concrete rules for information-sharing, verification and reporting, clarifying the role of online market places and addressing the issue of the “dark web”.”

Next steps

The draft report was approved by 32 votes to 0, with no abstentions.

The Committee will vote on a mandate to start informal talks with the Council at its next meeting in January.