The EU took steps Monday to impose uniform rules on chemicals found in everyday products that can be used to make bombs, with EU home affairs chief Cecilia Malmstroem (pictured) saying home-made explosives are used "very frequently" by terrorists.
AFP - Europe moved Monday to restrict access to chemicals found in everyday products from shampoo to fertiliser but which can be made into explosives such as those used in the 2005 London bombings.
The European Union's executive arm proposed a uniform rule for the entire 27-nation EU on chemicals that can be transformed into home-made bombs in order to have the same standard for every state.
The legislation would prevent potential bomb-makers from taking advantage of differing EU laws by crossing borders to get the chemicals they need if it is restricted in their country of residence, the European Commission said.
"Home-made explosives are tools used very frequently by terrorists and other criminals to perpetrate attacks," said EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem.
"We need to enhance controls and prevent terrorists from taking advantage of existing differences in security rules among EU member states," she said.
The latest report by the police agency Europol showed that home-made explosives are frequently used by terrorists to perpetrate attacks, she said.
For instance hydrogen peroxide, which is found in for hair-dye, tooth whitener and toilet cleaners, was used in the London public transport bombings that left 52 people dead, the commission noted.
"The nature of these incidents also show that terrorists may prepare in one country for an attack in another, so the EU can only be as strong as its weakest link," Malstroem said.
The rules would prohibit the sale to the general public of some chemicals above certain concentration threshholds. Users would need to get a special license to purchase a chemical at a higher level of concentration.
A mechanism for reporting suspicious transactions would also be set up to notify authorities of any potential foul play.
"Of course we want the European citizen to be clean so you would still be able to buy shampoo and toothpaste," Malstroem quipped, stressing that the law sought to prevent the acquisition of high concentrations of these chemicals.
The regulation needs to be approved by the European parliament and EU states. It would only enter into force 18 months after its adoption.
Date created : 2010-09-20