Policy Themes

CBRNE threats

The CBRN Action Plan aims to make unauthorised access to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials as difficult as possible.

Prevention is based on robust risk assessment processes, which include:

  • Securing high-risk CBRN materials and facilities
  • Developing a security culture for staff
  • Improving transport security
  • Exchanging information
  • Establishing import and export regimes
  • Strengthening cooperation on the security of nuclear materials

Key actions are designed to reduce the threat from CBRN incidents of accidental, natural and intentional origin, including terrorist activities. A prime area of attention are major accident hazards.

While the responsibility for protecting populations against CBRN incidents stays with member states, the CBRN Action Plan is a political commitment guided by the principles of EU solidarity and adding value. It is based on existing regulations and developed in close consultation with national authorities.

Actions are based on risk, threat and cost-efficiency assessments, many funded by the EU, and the need to keep certain information confidential is taken into account.

The plan aims to respond efficiently to incidents involving CBRN materials and recover them as quickly as possible. Specific attention is given to developing CBRN emergency planning, countermeasures, information flows, modelling tools and capacity for criminal investigations.

In its effort to combat terrorism, securing the availability of explosives is a priority for the European Commission.

Addressing the Threat of Homemade Explosives

Terrorists can produce homemade explosives using readily available chemicals in order to inflict casualties and damage. To reduce this risk, the Justice and Home Affairs Council approved the EU Action Plan on Enhancing the Security of Explosives in 2008. The Action Plan contributes to the EU Counter Terrorism Strategy (2005) and is in line with the Internal Security Strategy (2010).

The EU Explosives Action Plan contains 48 measures related to the prevention, detection, preparedness, and response to explosives-related incidents. The recommendations address aspects such as precursors, storage, transport, traceability, detection, research, information exchange and interagency coordination. The first set of measures aims to improve the exchange of timely information and best practices and to support research.

The second set of measures focuses on prevention, by raising staff awareness, increasing control over substances and explosives available on the market (including pyrotechnics), and establishing a mechanism for reporting suspicious transactions. Other prevention measures cover the security of explosives facilities and transport, as well as vetting of personnel in the supply chain. The action plan also calls for increased efforts to reduce the amount of information on making bombs available on the internet.

The third set of actions focuses on the detection of explosives threats, establishing a scenario-based approach to identifying technology requirements, current equipment, and common minimum detection standards. The action plan recognises that there is an urgent need for authorities, researchers, and end-users to, on the one hand, exchange information, particularly to establish an EU-wide certification, testing and trialling scheme for the detection of explosives. On the other hand it focuses on the ongoing reassessment of detection technologies in specific locations.

Finally, preparedness and response measures call for a network to improve the sharing of information and best practices among explosives ordnance disposal units in Europe.

The actions contained in the EU Explosives Action Plan are implemented through a joint effort of the European Commission, member states, Europol, research institutions and private sector stakeholders.

Additional Regulation

One of the key actions of the EU Explosives Action Plan called on the European Commission to regulate the availability of explosives precursors on the market. As a result, Regulation (EU) 98/2013 on the marketing and use of explosives precursors was adopted and came into force on 2 September 2014. It restricts the availability, possession, and use of seven dangerous substances although member states may decide to grant access to these substances through a system of licenses and registration. The regulation obliges operators supplying these substances to ensure appropriate labelling and report any suspicious transactions involving seven restricted substances and eight other non-restricted substances which are also of concern.

Another relevant regulation is Decision 1082/2013/EU, which aims to securing the food chain against CBRN contamination by developing preventive measures. 


Details of projects in this theme can be found on the Explore DRM Projects tool.