EU looks at beefing up airport security following Brussels attacks

Security experts meet to discuss a raft of possible new airport security measures in the wake of terrorist atrocity in Brussels.

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

31 Mar 2016

It is believed that potential measures might include security scanners being installed at the entrances to airports. Other possible options thought to be under discussion are the deployment of "behavioural officers" to spot suspicious behaviour and sniffer dogs in check-in areas.

Scanners are commonplace at the entrances to Russian airports following suicide attacks by Chechen separatists.

The extraordinary meeting of the Committee for Civil Aviation Security (Avsec) was being held in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands on Thursday, to discuss airport security, including publically accessible areas. It comes after the attacks on Brussels Zaventem Airport.


The EU regulatory committee is an officials group that meets regularly with all member states represented.

Also represented are two European commission directorates, transport and justice.

Airline safety rules, including the ban on liquids in hand baggage, are agreed at a common European level.

However, any new plans emerging from the meeting on Thursday could face significant hostility on cost grounds from airlines and airports, and any proposal would need to be approved by national governments.

On Thursday, a Brussels Airport spokeswoman told The Parliament Magazine, that in the wake of last week’s attacks, various new security measures were already under discussion in Belgium, including metal detectors at entrances to the airport. There may also be increased baggage checks on passengers while the use of sniffer dogs had already been introduced at regional airports in Belgium since last week.

She said, "Since the attacks some additional security measures have been introduced at our regional airports, including entrance checks, but we clearly do not want to go into too much detail about these.

Obviously, our main concern is the safety and security of passengers and staff and we will implement whatever measures are deemed to be necessary. We will await the outcome of the meeting on Thursday and also what the federal government wants to do before any decisions are taken.

There is of course, a cost implication to all this but, at present, we are trying to handle a crisis here and not thinking about costs."

She also conceded that restoring the image of Brussels and Belgium could be a "long term" challenge, saying, "We will just have to see how long it takes before people feel confident again about returning to the airport and coming to Brussels and Belgium."

More comment came from a spokesman for the UK's Department for Transport who said: "The UK has some of the strictest aviation security arrangements in the world. We will continue to take all the steps necessary to keep the public safe, but for obvious reasons we do not comment in detail on specific measures."

 Meanwhile, 32 people are now confirmed dead following the attacks, though Belgian authorities had initially reported that 35 people had been killed.

The victims include 17 Belgians and 15 foreign nationals. The figure was released by the crisis centre at the Belgian home affairs ministry.

 The Belgian authorities have also succeeded in identifying all victims. Some 90 injured remain in hospital while 49 people are still in intensive care.

The earlier miscalculation was the result of the fact that three victims featured on two different lists. They were listed under a different identity.

Christian Decobecq, of the Belgian federal police, said, "Fragments still need to be identified to allow us to return bodies to relatives as complete as possible."

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