De Maiziere calls for more international coordination on air freight security | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 02.11.2010
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De Maiziere calls for more international coordination on air freight security

De Maiziere says that the packages containing explosives discovered over the weekend highlight security gaps. He wants to close them through the introduction of coordinated, pan-European measures.

Boxes stacked in a warehouse

De Maiziere wants co-ordinated security checks at EU airports

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has called for security precautions on air cargo jets to be stepped up. The best way to do this, he says, is through closer cooperation between security agencies.

"Air freight has been relatively under-monitored up to now," de Maiziere told reporters. "Evidently they recognized that and exploited it. This means changes for the air freight business."

A printer cartridge with wires visible

Package bombs got through security at Cologne-Bonn airport

De Maiziere plans to discuss the issue at a meeting of European interior ministers later this week. His goal is to introduce coordinated security procedures on a European level.

De Maiziere's statement followed the discovery over the weekend that a package containing explosives had passed through Cologne-Bonn airport undetected before being found in England. The package had been dispatched from Yemen and was bound for the United States.

Observers say those who planted the explosives likely exploited lax security in the country from where the aircraft began its journey.

"There are some countries in which there are security gaps," Elmar Giemulla, who teaches the air transport law at the Technical University of Berlin, told the German Press Agency in an interview.

"There are rules, but whether they are properly observed is another matter," he said.

Stricter checks

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) sets standards for its 190 member nations. When freight is sent from Europe, or from the United States, it is either inspected or it has to be packed by a so-called 'known consignor,' which is regulated by the state. But elsewhere measures aren't so strictly observed.

"We need to check the reliability and control measures of third states," de Maiziere said on a visit to Cologne-Bonn airport on Monday.

In response to the discovery of the explosives, Berlin has stopped all freight and passenger flights from Yemen from entering German airspace.

Yemen has criticized Germany's decision to ban flights from its airports, saying it needs help to fight terrorism, not punishment.

Author: Natalia Dannenberg (dpa, AP)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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