EU legislation to prevent terrorist attacks?
By Isabelle Smets | Monday 04 June 2012
Europe’s high-speed rail network is a potentially attractive target for terrorist acts, says a new working document from the EU executive on land transport security
(1).Therefore, the 31 May document indicates, EU security standards for this network could be proposed in future.
Minimum requirements for all land transport (including public transport, such as trains, subways, trams and buses), particularly regarding prevention measures and the training of staff, could be established - although nothing has been confirmed at this stage. However, a working group composed of national experts from the transport, security and justice sectors, as well as a second group of industry representatives, will discuss the matter over the next few months, and the two groups will work with the Commission to determine exactly what kind of action is required.
Land transport is the weak link in the security chain; while significant measures have been drawn up at EU level for freight transport and air and maritime passengers, nothing similar has been established for transport on wheels, despite serious terrorist attacks, such as the Madrid train bombings of March 2004, which killed almost 200 people, the London bombings of July 2005, which killed 52, and the Paris metro attacks of 1995, in which eight lost their lives and over a hundred were injured.
The measures that exist for air and maritime transport cannot be directly transposed to apply to trains and subways, and the subsidiarity principle is also an important consideration in this area - although perhaps less so for high-speed rail networks - but a European framework could be used as a backdrop for action at the national level. For example, the Commission would like to ensure that transport operators are able to react appropriately in the case of a major security incident, and may call for contingency plans covering likely security scenarios and measures to be taken to minimise the consequences of such events. It could also propose mandatory training for staff working in land transport in order to better enable the detection of threats and improve the ability of staff to react in case of an incident.
Minimum standards could also be proposed to ensure that transport operators are equipped to deal with cyber attacks.
For road transport, the Commission could oblige member states to build secure car parks at regular distances along pan-European transport routes. Transport operators have long hoped for this, since around €8 billion is lost every year through theft from lorry cargos in the EU.
The working document also highlights that no security requirements exist for the inland waterway sector, and “this needs to be addressed”.(1) The document is available at
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