By Martin Banks - 21st June 2010
We will make sure that standards are met
A leading MEP says air passengers must retain the right to choose how they want to be checked by security at airports.
The comments, by German member Manfred Weber, come after the European commission published a new proposal on the use of body scanners at European airports.
The commission said that full body scanners are a reliable screening method at airports, but believe a common framework must be developed across the EU to protect citizens' fundamental rights and health.
The commission statement said, "In order to end the current fragmented situation wherein member states and airports decide ad-hoc if and how to deploy security scanners at airports, the use of scanners must be based on common standards, requesting basic detection performance, and imposing safeguards to comply with European fundamental rights and health provisions,"
Reacting to the move, Webber, a deputy EPP leader, said, "We do see the advantages of the use of body scanners in security checks at airports.
"However it is the concerns our citizens have towards this technology which should be in focus now."
He added, "The EPP is convinced that a European solution must be found. It is unacceptable that passengers at European airports are treated differently."
"We will make sure that standards are met."
Weber said he supported the maintenance of alternative security checks to be applied on an optional basis.
"Passengers must have the right to choose themselves how they want to be checked: conventionally by metal detectors and manual checks or by body scanners."
"There must be a clear added value of the new technique before it is used. The commission and the member states have to take the concerns of our citizens seriously and have to eliminate all doubts."
Meanwhile, a human rights group said the commission communication "offers too little guidance to address human rights concerns."
Martin Scheinin, of the European University Institute and United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, said, “From a human rights perspective, the commission communication is a disappointment.
"It ignores a number of critical observations made earlier in the process by the EU's own fundamental rights agency.
"The section on the protection of fundamental rights is brief and focuses on human dignity and data protection. While both of these issues are relevant, the latter one is very easy to resolve and the outcome of the discussion in the communication becomes therefore misleading.”
“Although some other human rights are mentioned the central issue of interference in the right to privacy is ignored."
He added, "Therefore, the document does not include even an effort to subject the use of security scanners to a proper test of permissible limitations, including the assessment of the necessity, effectiveness and proportionality of the interference.
"This is disappointing, as the document duly recognises that such an assessment is of decisive importance for any decision to take security scanners in use."