Moves to overhaul Europe's bewildering set of rules covering aviation security could come to nothing owing to continued wrangling between European transport ministers and the European Parliament over who exactly foots the bill.
The European Commission submitted proposals in 2005 to revise the existing regulations covering air security, introduced after the 11 September 2001 terror attacks, in a bid to clarify, simplify and harmonise legal requirements while at the same time enhancing security in civil aviation. These proposals now have to be adopted by both the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament under a co-decision procedure
While the Council said last year that, in view of security incidents in the UK, it intended to reach a quick agreement with the Parliament, it moved on 2 October to reject the Parliament's second reading amendments and, consequently, to convene a conciliation committee with a view to negotiating a joint text.
Members of the European Parliament have repeatedly said the cost of additional stringent security measures should be borne by member states if they exceed those that would normally be partly covered by airlines.
"There is no doubt that the industry wants clarity in terms of regulations, but it is fed up with member states piling on extra security measures and not ever dipping into their own pockets," says Brian Simpson, UK MEP and leader of the Socialist group in the Parliamentary transport committee.
Olivier Jankovec, director general of European airports lobby ACI Europe, told Flight International: "It's essentially an institutional battle between the Parliament and the Council, but we hope they will find a way out. The best compromise for our members would be that we would get some form of financing at least to cover additional measures while securing a revision of the regulations that would allow us to achieve real cost savings. If we could only achieve one thing, however, it would have to be a comprehensive revision of existing measures."