EU experts mull use of airport body scanners

Aviation security experts from the EU discuss whether to recommend the installation of body scanners at European airports.

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BRUSSELS // Aviation security experts from the European Union discussed today whether to recommend the installation of body scanners at European airports, as some EU member states played down the need for beefed up security measures. The United States, Britain and the Netherlands already have announced plans to install the scanners amid growing worldwide security concerns following the attempt to blow up a US airliner flying from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day. But Belgium's secretary of state for transport Etiennne Schouppe described such measures as "excessive," and said security requirements at European airports are already "strict enough". Until now, the EU has allowed member states to decide on whether to use body scanners at airport checkpoints. In 2008, the EU suspended work on draft legislation regulating the use of body scanners after the European Parliament demanded a more in-depth study of their impact on health and privacy. Since the attempted attack on a Detroit-bound aeroplane on December 25, the EU has been re-evaluating its security regulations. Experts from the member states now must assess whether body scanners can fit into EU legislation, officials said. The EU spokesman Fabio Pirotta said no decisions would be taken at today's meeting. "The experts will only take stock of the overall security situation," Mr Pirotta said. The US Transportation Security Administration, which uses 40 scanners at various airports throughout the United States, already has announced plans to order dozens more. Mr Schouppe said the European Union should adopt a joint approach to the use of body scanners. "We must have a common position for all European Union members states so that there is a real transparency between measures taken on the European side and the US side," he said in an interview with APTV. "I must say that I have the feeling that [the Americans] are exaggerating. I don't know what kinds of controls they were using previously, but here, in Belgium and in the large majority of European airports, security controls were strict enough," he said. In Italy, the interior minister Roberto Maroni said he expects to see scanners at least at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport and Milan's Malpensa hub. * AP