Security Union: Commission welcomes political agreement on new rules for explosive precursors - EU monitor

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Sunday, April 5, 2020

Security Union: Commission welcomes political agreement on new rules for explosive precursors

Source: European Commission (EC) i, published on Thursday, February 14 2019.

Today Member States endorsed the agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council on the Commission's proposal to strengthen EU rules on explosive precursors.

The reinforced rules will ensure stronger safeguards and controls on the sale of dangerous chemicals that can be misused for the production of home-made explosives.

Welcoming the agreement, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “In a Europe that protects, it is indispensable to restrict criminals' and terrorists' access to the means they use to hurt us. Homemade explosives, cooked from materials bought over the counter, have been used time and time again against our citizens. The new EU rules against explosives precursors will ban additional chemicals, tighten rules on online sales, and further restrict access to the general public. Today's agreement is yet another step in the right direction, towards a genuine and effective Security Union in Europe."

Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said: “Closing down the space in which terrorists operate includes depriving them of the means to harm us - and today's political agreement will help tighten the controls around the kinds of home-made explosives which have been used to such deadly effect in attacks on European soil."

The EU already has strict rules in place on access to precursors which can be used to produce home-made explosives. To make it even more difficult for terrorists and criminals to get a hold of those substances the Commission proposed in April 2018 to further tighten the existing rules, to which the European Parliament and the Council have now also agreed. The new measures will:

  • Ban additional chemicals: Two new chemicals will be included in the list of restricted substances: sulphuric acid, a central ingredient for the production of the highly explosive TATP (triacetone triperoxide); and ammonium nitrate, a chemical predominantly used as a fertiliser, which can also be a component in explosive devices;
  • Harmonise rules for online and offline purchases: Since the substances can be obtained equally in brick-and-mortar shops as well as from online retailers, the new rules will also apply fully to online sales. The rules also oblige businesses and online marketplaces to have procedures in place to detect suspicious transactions and report them within 24 hours;
  • Restrict access to general public: the general public will now need a licence to obtain certain restricted precursors. The conditions for granting licences are also tightened and will include a criminal record check. The practice of registering transactions by the general public is now discontinued;
  • Better information sharing: Merchants must conduct checks upon sale, and alert the next actor in the supply chain that a product is subject to EU restrictions. Transaction information will also be recorded by businesses, which will help national authorities to properly investigate suspicious transactions if necessary.

Next steps

The European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the Commission's proposal to strengthen EU rules on explosive precursors on 4 February. Today the agreement was confirmed by Member States and will now have to be endorsed also by the European Parliament. The Regulation will now need to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council. It will become applicable by Member States 18 months following the date of entry into force.


In 2013, the EU put in place rules to restrict access to explosive precursors that could be used to make home-made explosives. However, the security threat has been constantly evolving with terrorists using new tactics, and developing new recipes and bomb-making techniques. This is why the Commission proposed to further tighten those rules in April 2018, as part of a wider set of security measures to deny terrorists the means to act.

The Juncker Commission has prioritised security from day one. The European Agenda on Security guides the Commission's work in this area, setting out the main actions to ensure an effective EU response to terrorism and security threats, including countering radicalisation, boosting cybersecurity, cutting terrorist financing as well as improving information exchange. Since the adoption of the Agenda, significant progress has been made in its implementation, paving the way towards an effective and genuine Security Union.

For More Information

Press release on measures to deny terrorists and criminals the means and space to act (17 April 2018)

Frequently Asked Questions: Security Union - Denying terrorists the means to act (17 April 2018)



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