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European Law Monitor newsImproved traceability of explosives in EU

As one of a series of measures to help combat terrorism, the Commission has adopted measures to strengthen the control of explosives for civil use, for instance in the mining industry. To prevent theft and to ensure that any thefts or losses are quickly detected, the new Regulation requires unique labelling of explosives throughout the EU. In addition, manufacturers, traders and users will be required to tighten recordkeeping and stock management. This will make it easier to trace the origin of lost or stolen explosives and to quickly establish whether persons holding explosives are doing so legally and what the itinerary of the explosives has been.

Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy, said: "While the usefulness of explosives in a number of economic activities is not in question, the possibility of their diversion and misuse needs to be reduced. This is a welcome development and will improve the security of our citizens."

So far diverging labelling requirements in different Member States could hamper national authorities from quickly establishing the legitimate possession, origin and itinerary of explosives, in particular when being transported from one Member State to another[1]. At present it can take up to two days in order to identify the origin of explosives. With unique labelling this time lag will be considerably reduced.

Therefore, the Commission Directive on the identification and traceability of explosives adopted today in the framework of Council Directive 93/15/EEC on the placing on the market and supervision of explosives for civil uses requires Member States to ensure that explosives and each smallest packaging unit thereof would be marked with a unique identification. The label shall contain information about the country of production or import, the manufacturer, place of production and a unique product code, both in the form of text, and as a bar or matrix code. These have to be fixed on the various types of explosives, such as cartridged explosives; two-component explosives, electric, non-electric and electronic detonators; detonating cords and safety fuses, etc.

Undertakings in the explosives sector will have to maintain records for 10 years after delivery of explosives or whenever known after the use, in a way which allows keeping track of explosives in such a way that those holding the explosives can be identified at any time from production and first placing on the market until final use.
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[1] A harmonised explosives transfer document was established by Commission Decision 2004/388/EC.