O-114 The European Union's Strategy for the Protection of Public Structures against Terrorist Explosive Devices

October 2007
A Review by Rick Krosenbrink and Jody Borgers, Netherlands Defence Academy, Breda , Eric Deschambault (Munitions Logistics - Transport and Storage)

"Europe has never been so prosperous, so secure or so free. The violence of the first half of the 20th Century has given way to a period of peace and stability unprecedented in European History. This first line of the 2003 European Security Strategy (ESS) describes a peacefully consolidated Europe. To a certain level this is true, but we must not forget that Europe has suffered from terrorism from various sources for decades (i.e. ETA, IRA) and that the calm picture as described in the ESS was shattered by the terrorist bombings of Madrid (2004) and London (2005). Those two events in particular have generated considerable concern about the ability of the EU to protect itself from bombings and other physical attacks.

This paper presents the EU strategy for the protection of public structures against terrorist explosive devices. Different programmes in this area (i.e. the 7th Framework Programme) are described as well as the organisations and research groups involved. Besides the strategy from an organisational perspective, a review of the current standards and guidelines is presented.

From documents as the European Security Strategy (ESS) and the European Union Counter-Terrorism Strategy (EUCTS) it can be seen that the EU is primarily focusing on the prevention of terrorism by pursuing actors in any possible way and by ensuring that explosives are not available to terrorists. The technical expertise is available in certain Member States, mostly because of their history with terrorism explosive attacks (i.e. the UK's experience with the IRA), but this knowledge is not yet transferred to the higher EU level. Protection measures against effects from accidental explosions are well documented in existing standards but against deliberate attacks different protection guidelines are needed. Recommendations for improving the EU strategy are given.