News / Europe

Europe Debates Airport Security

Multimedia

Audio
Jennifer Glasse

European aviation officials are meeting in Brussels to discuss airport security measures and British authorities are doing the same as governments try to decide the best way to protect planes and air passengers in the wake of a failed bombing attempt on an American airliner on Christmas day.

The European Commission's aviation experts are meeting Thursday according to commission spokesman Fabio Pirotta.

"It is a meeting of aviation security committee and they are meeting to take stock of the situation following the incidents that happened over the holidays," he said.

While Pirotta would not say exactly what the committee will address, full body scanners are likely to be on the agenda.  European nations are divided as to whether to deploy them in airports.  Officials from some countries, like Germany have cited health and privacy issues.

The Netherlands and Britain have announced they will install scanners in the coming weeks. 

Barbara Hellfferich, another commission spokesperson, says there are currently no European Union rules preventing member states from introducing body scanners and the European commission's position is clear.

"It considers body scanners, if they meet the health standards and security standards, as a useful additional tool provided they do not contradict existing European legislation," she said.

In Britain, the heads of airport security are meeting with government officials to discuss rolling out new security measures.  The British prime minister's announcement  this week that scanners will be in U.K. airports in the next three weeks has sparked protest from civil liberties campaigners such as Simon Davies, of the group Privacy International.

"Here you have a machine that electronically strip searches people," he said.  "It strip searches them regardless of age or innocence, children, grandmothers, whomever.  The reality is this is yet another assault on the dignity of the public and rights of the public.  Now if you could prove that the machines are essential to  protection of our security, then I would say the use is proportionate."

Davies says he objects to the scanners not only because of privacy issues, but also because he says they are a waste of money.

"From a security perspective, money should be diverted to tried and tested proven methods of counter terrorism. Why divert finite resources to something which does not work, which has never ever been proved to work, just on speculation, on hypothesis that at sometime in the future it may?" he asked.

Aviation analyst Chris Yates says the scanners are effective, but have to be used with other security screening methods.

"Body scanners in and of themselves provide an additional capability, in terms of aviation security, but they are by no means the only answer.  Body Scanners are only the first element, we need to look at the profiling, we need to also look at the liquid aspect.  We need to look at advanced technology as well," said Yates.

That advanced technology includes trace detectors that can determine whether someone' was touched or been exposed to explosive material.  U.S. President Barack Obama called the failed Christmas day bombing an intelligence failure.  Yates says intelligence is only part of keeping travelers safe.

"Security has always got to be a mix of technique and technology.  So on the technique side, there has to be advances in the profiling of passengers, but not necessarily in terms of ethnicity, religion and so forth," Yates added.

It is not clear whether body scanners would have identified the failed Christmas day bomber, because they do not always detect liquids or plastic. Aviation officials say it was lucky the bomb did not detonate properly.  European governments are working to find aviation security measures that will not rely on luck.
 

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs