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Explosives precursors


Explosives precursors are chemical substances that can be used for legitimate purposes, but that can also be misused to manufacture homemade explosives. Such explosives have been used in many of the recent terrorist attacks in the EU, including those in Paris in 2015, Brussels in 2016 and Manchester and Parsons Green in 2017. To protect citizens from the threat posed by explosives precursors, the Commission has taken a number of actions.

Regulation 98/2013 on explosives precursors

The Regulation (EU) No 98/2013 on the marketing and use of explosives precursors harmonises rules across Europe on the making available, introduction, possession and use, of certain substances or mixtures that could be misused for the illicit manufacture of explosives.

The Regulation restricts the access to, and use of, seven chemical substances by members of the general public ('restricted explosives precursors,' listed in Annex I). Member States may decide to grant access by the public to these substances only through a system of licenses and registration. In addition, the Regulation introduces obligations for economic operators who place such substances on the market. Operators must ensure the appropriate labelling of restricted explosives precursors, and must also report any suspicious transactions involving both the restricted substances and other non-restricted substances which are also considered of concern (eight, listed in Annex II).

Under the Regulation, each Member State is expected to designate a competent authority and adopt its own measures to implement the restrictions and, if it opts to have one, a licensing or registration regime. The competent authority in each Member State is also required to set up its own national contact point(s) for the reporting of suspicious transactions. The Commission is tasked with making the list of measures notified by Member States publicly available and with drawing up guidelines to facilitate the implementation of the Regulation.

On 30 November 2016, the Commission adopted delegated regulations 2017/214 , 2017/215 , and 2017/216 , adding substances to Annex II.

The Standing Committee on Precursors (SCP), an expert group chaired by the Commission and composed of representatives of Member States and of industry associations, assists the Commission in its work to facilitate and harmonise the implementation of the Regulation.

In February 2017, the Commission adopted a report on the application of the Regulation [COM(2017) 103 final]. The report outlines the main challenges faced by Member States and the supply chain and examines the feasibility and desirability of strengthening the system in the future. It concludes that the entry into force of the Regulation has helped reduce access to dangerous explosive precursors which can be misused to manufacture homemade explosives. It adds, however, that changes to the Regulation should be considered in order to increase the capacity of all those involved in implementing and enforcing the restrictions and controls. With this in mind, the Commission has committed to carefully assessing the impact of possible new and strengthened measures.

More information on the revision process is available at Work-in-progress: Revision of the Regulation on the marketing and use of explosives precursors

Recommendation on immediate steps to prevent misuse

On 18 October 2017, the Commission adopted a Recommendation on immediate steps to prevent misuse of explosives precursors (PDF). In spite of efforts to effectively restrict and control access to these substances, the threat posed by homemade explosives remained high and several attacks and incidents involving explosives precursors had taken place. The Commission therefore recommended a series of measures aimed at limiting the availability of explosives precursors to the general public, and strengthening cooperation with supply chain actors.

Proposal for a revision of Regulation 98/2013

On 17 April 2018, the Commission adopted a proposal for Regulation on the marketing and use of explosives precursors, amending Annex XVII to Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 and repealing Regulation (EU) No 98/2013 on the marketing and use of explosives precursors (PDF). The proposal aims to strengthen and clarify the existing rules in order to close security gaps and deny terrorists the means to act. The proposal was accompanied by an impact assessment, assessing the available policy options. The proposed measures include:

  • Expanding the list of regulated substances
  • Ending the current registration systems
  • Quicker and better information sharing
  • Clarifying the rules regarding both offline and online sales

For more information read the press release, check the factsheet (PDF)or browse through the frequently asked questions.

Implementation in the EU/EEA Member States

All EU/EEA Member States must adopt measures and designate authorities to implement and enforce EU legislation. The following documents are revised regularly on the basis of notifications received from Member States:

More information for some EU/EEA countries is available below:

AustriaPublic overview of measures (PDF)
Website of the Austrian competent authority
Website of the Austrian Economic Chambers
BelgiumWebsite of the Belgian competent authority (FR - NL - DE - EN)
Website of the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium (VBO/nlFEB/fr)
BulgariaDecree 283 of 29.12.2015
CroatiaWebsite of the Croatian competent authority
CyprusWebsite of the Cypriot competent authority
Czech RepublicWebsite of the Czech competent authority
DenmarkWebsite of the Danish competent authority
EstoniaWebsite of the Estonian competent authority
FinlandWebsite of the Finnish competent authority
IrelandWebsite of the Irish competent authority
LatviaWebsite of the Latvian competent authority
LithuaniaWebsite of the Lithuanian competent authority
LuxembourgWebsite of the Luxembourgish national authority
NetherlandsWebsite of the Netherlands competent authority
NorwayPublic overview of measures
Regulation 588 of 2 June 2015 (English)
Website of the Norwegian competent authority
SlovakiaWebsite of the Slovakian competent authority
SloveniaWebsite of the Slovenian competent authority
SwedenWebsite of the Swedish competent authority
Switzerland [non-EEA]Website of the Swiss competent authority (DEFRIT)
United KingdomPublic overview of measures for Great Britain
Public overview of measures for Northern Ireland
Website of the British competent authority

Guidance materials

The Standing Committee on Precursors (SCP) has issued a Guidelines document, available in English only, which provides guidance to Member State competent authorities and to economic operators in the implementation of the requirements contained in Regulation 98/2013. The SCP Guidelines also offer advice on good practice to economic operators.

In addition, guidance materials for economic operators have been prepared by four partner countries, through a project co-funded by the Prevention of and Fight against Crime (ISEC) programme of DG Migration and Home Affairs:

Reports by the Commission

The Commission has adopted the following reports based on the Regulation:

  • REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL on the application of, and delegation of power under, Regulation (EU) 98/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the marketing and use of explosives precursors [COM(2017) 103 final]
  • REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL pursuant to Article 18 of Regulation (EU) No 98/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2013 on the marketing and use of explosives precursors, examining the possibilities to transfer relevant provisions on ammonium nitrate from Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 [COM(2015) 122 final]