European Parliament and Council representatives were able to strike a deal in conciliation on civil aviation security beginning of January after long and extensive negotiations.
Speaking in the debate on Monday 10 March 2008: Paolo COSTA (ALDE, IT), Chairman on the Transport Committee and rapporteur on the new regulation, welcomed the agreement. "The new regulation allow us to react more flexibly. Security is a clear priority for us. Controls must be strict and efficient, but must not lead to excessive inconveniences for the passengers. Also, controls must not lead to useless costs as regards the application. New control measures must not be introduced without democratic control and verification". Mr Costa said. He also stressed, that the principles of the financing and transparency will be addressed in an upcoming report by the European Commission, which will "safeguard undistorted competition between airports and air carriers".
Philip Bradbourn (West Midlands, Conservative, EPP-ED, UK), on behalf of the his group said: "In the light of the ongoing terrorist threat, we believe that clear rules for security and, importantly, common implementation across Europe’s airports and airlines are absolutely necessary, and this proposal delivers on both counts.
Timothy Kirkhope (Yorkshire and the Humber, Conservative, EPP-ED, UK) said "EU cooperation is needed to provide consistency on this so that passengers are better informed. As I said late last year, mutual recognition of our differing legal traditions is the way forward in an EU of 27 Member States, but basic security standards should be established in the EU. When the Commission outlines the principle of financing later this year, I will argue strongly that Member States should be allowed to go above and beyond these, should they feel the need, as long as they are prepared to pay the costs.
The EU should be proactive rather than reactive with regard to all these security issues. We must be one step ahead of the threat by developing more sophisticated technology and by sharing best practice and pooling intelligence. I believe that this report certainly takes us somewhat in that direction."
Security programmes at national airport and air carrier level
Common basic security standards include, inter alia, screening of passengers and cabin baggage, access control, screening of hold baggage, aircraft security checks, security controls for cargo and mail, staff recruitment and training as well as patrols and other physical controls.
Security programmes at national airport and air carrier level shall assure that the common rules are applied and maintained.
Member States are free to apply more stringent measures. However, those measures must be "relevant, objective, non-discriminatory and proportional" to the risk that is being addressed.
For the first time, in-flight security measures such as access to the cockpit, unruly passengers and in-flight security officers ('sky marshals') are addressed at European level.
The new regulation doesn't oblige Member States to deploy in-flight security officers. Each Member State retains the competence to do or not to do so.
Parliament and Council agreed that those Member States that decide to deploy sky marshals must ensure that they are "specially selected and trained". Strict rules concerning sky marshals were a crucial point for Parliament at the first and second readings.
As regards the carriage of weapons, those must not be carried on board an aircraft (with the exception of those carried in the hold), unless the required security conditions in accordance with national laws have been fulfilled and authorisation has been given by the States involved.
Financing security measures
Each Member State determines the shares of the cost of security measures to be borne respectively by the state, the airport entities, air carriers, other responsible agencies or users. Additionally, the Commission will, no later than 31 December 2008, present a report which will consider what steps need to be taken in order to ensure that security charges are used exclusively to meet security costs, and to "improve the transparency of such charges". If appropriate, this report will be accompanied by a legislative proposal.
According to Mr Costa, modern-day transport security activities are an answer both to a “private (passenger) fear” and to a “public concern”. It is virtually impossible not to burden the passenger. But, at the same time, Mr Costa underlined, it would have been unfair to keep governments away from any financial responsibility in the matter and to burden all citizens without any distinction between users and not users.
One-stop security checks
Passengers and/or their baggage arriving on flights from third countries that have aviation security standards equivalent to the EU law need not be re-screened. Therefore, agreements between the EU and third countries, which recognise that the security standards applied in the third country are equivalent to the EU standards, should be encouraged.
Entry into force
The regulation enters into force on the twentieth day after publication in the Official Journal and will be applied not later than 24 months after this date.