While the TSA in the U.S. still drifts along, a year and quarter without a permanent director in charge, the European Union has found a way to lift the widely hated and frequently ridiculed ban on carrying liquids. It will occur in 2013, however.
From Speednews.com, via an EU announcement:
The European Union this week announced new measures intended to streamline and simplify the EU framework for aviation security. The new measures will update those policies which were first put into place in 2002 following 9/11, the first time the EU had adopted common rules on aviation. Previously each Member State had its own rules for aviation security.
"The revision is about better regulation – simplifying and improving procedures to make it easier for industry on a daily basis to implement safety controls, without any reduction in security," EU said in a press release.
The framework sets a deadline of April 29, 2013 for the lifting of current restrictions on the carriage of liquids in cabin baggage. New screening equipment for liquids must be used in all airports across Europe by that deadline.
As a preliminary step in phasing out the restrictions on liquids, beginning April 19, 2011 at the latest, duty-free liquids purchased at third country airports or on board third country airlines and carried in tamper evident bags will be allowed as cabin baggage and will be screened, the EU said. Currently these liquids are only allowed in cabin baggage if they come from selected third countries (United States, Canada, Singapore and Croatia).
It says the package will also open the door for negotiating "one-stop shop" security agreements with third countries. Those agreements could potentially reduce re-screening for transfer passengers.
"A lot has been learnt since the first EU-wide rules putting in place common aviation security standards were put in place after September 11," Commission Vice-President in charge of transport Siim Kallas said. "This is about building on the experience of recent years and streamlining procedures, so that on a daily basis security controls are easier for industry to implement. For passengers, the aim is also to simplify wherever possible the necessary security controls. In that sense this package takes a significant step forwards in signaling the beginning of the end for the current restrictions on liquids in cabin baggage, with a clear and final deadline of April 2013."
The new rules put in place a series of measures to improve, streamline and simplify existing procedures, by:
* Eliminating duplication of security controls. For example, reducing costly duplication of checks in strictly controlled areas of EU airports, where there has already been strict screening for access. This is of significant operational benefit for airlines and airports.
* Simplifying procedures. For example, by establishing a single set of standards for the documents you need to get access at airports. The new rules clarify which kinds of identification and authorizations are necessary for access to different restricted areas. This clarifies the situation for authorities making it easier for them to operate the system.
* Harmonizing procedures. For example, introducing EU-wide procedures for the recognition of hauliers transporting air cargo consignments. These can be recognized and used by hauliers in all Member States – this reduces restrictions for hauliers and the need for costly re-screening of cargo.
* Introducing common minimum standards as regards security training for all staff that implement security controls.
"The implementation of these security measures at EU airports will continue to be closely monitored through unannounced Commission inspections," the EU said in its press release. "Where necessary, the Commission will perform follow-up inspections or start infringement procedures against Member States in order to ensure the overall level of aviation security in the EU."