Time to tighten the rules on the use and sale of dangerous chemicals

Time to tighten the rules on the use and sale of dangerous chemicals
© iStock-D-Keine

According to the European Parliament, current rules restrict access to a number of dangerous chemicals that could be used to manufacture homemade explosives.

Plans to update and tighten rules on the use and sale of dangerous chemicals that could be used to make homemade explosives, were informally agreed with Council negotiators.

Currently there are rules in place that restrict access to a number of chemicals that could be used to manufacture homemade explosives, however members of the general public can only use these chemicals with special licencing or registration regimes. Moreover, suspicious transactions involving these explosive precursors have to be reported to the authorities.

Dangerous chemicals and homemade explosives

Despite such restrictions, homemade explosives were used in roughly 40% of terrorist attacks in the EU between 2015 and 2017, demonstrating clear gaps in existing procedures.

Parliament and Council negotiators agreed that the rules need to be strengthened by the following initiatives:

  • Addition of new chemicals to the list of banned substances. Such as sulphuric acid which is used to produce TATP, the explosive used in the 2015 attacks in Paris, the Brussels attack in 2016 and the Manchester attack in 2017
  • Tightening the conditions for granting licences to the general public for the purchase and use of explosives precursors and ending the current weak registration systems that allow people to buy restricted substances by simply showing an ID card
  • Clarifying that online marketplaces are equally covered by the rules on sale and on reporting of suspicious transactions.
  • The restrictions would not apply to professionals who need to use these chemicals in connection to their trade or profession.

Stronger regulation is essential

Rapporteur Andrejs Mamikins said: “Stronger regulation of marketing and use of explosives precursors are essential steps in making Europe a safer place.

“Preventing bomb-making, illicit trade in explosives (including on the “dark web”), as well as harmonisation of marketing in the EU, were our priorities in the negotiations. The new rules ensure clearer definitions, stricter control measures and better information-sharing along the supply chain”.

Going forward

The initiatives now need to be formally approved by the Civil Liberties Committee, Parliament as a whole and the Council before entering into force.

The new rules will apply 18 months after their publication. Issued licences will remain valid 12 months after the application of the new rules.

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