Strasbourg, 16 May 2017
Dear Commissioner Avramopoulos,
Dear Commissioner Bulc,
Dear Commissioner King,
On March 21st, the US administration initiated a prohibition on carrying personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smartphone into the cabins of flights to the US leaving from ten airports in the Middle East and North Africa. Recent media reports including a letter viewed by Politico, have mentioned that the European Commission and the US authorities have discussed a possible expansion of the measure to flights from EU territory. I would like to raise the following concerns regarding this possible restrictive measure.
First of all, could you provide more details on what this prohibition would specifically entail? What are the implications for travellers, airlines, and airports if this prohibition would apply to the EU?
Furthermore, how does this measure fall within the transatlantic cooperation in fighting terrorism and serious crime? Does the Commission consider a similar prohibition on carrying devices larger than smart phones for flights within, or into, the EU? Can the Commission clarify if the cooperation of European authorities with the implementation of this possible measure will be made a precondition for EU countries to be, or remain, included in the US Visa Waiver Programme?
The ban on liquids larger than 100 ml in hand luggage is a similar restrictive measure for flight passengers. The ban of 2006 was supposed to be a temporary restriction to be lifted when suitable technology to screen liquids for explosives would become readily available. As this screening equipment had been installed in all airports, the measure was supposed to be repealed in 2013. What steps have been taken towards the repeal, and what are the results of the monitoring and evaluations carried out by the Commission concerning this specific measure?
Lastly, according to President Trump’s spokesperson, the restriction on carrying electronic devices larger than a smartphone was put in place as a counterterrorism measure. However, the aforementioned letter of the Commission was signed by Commissioner Avramopoulos and Commissioner Bulc, who are not responsible for counterterrorism. Why is Commissioner King, dealing with the creation of the Security Union, which includes counterterrorism measures, not involved?
Thank you in advance for providing clarification on these urgent matters.
Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP