Experts of European Union (EU) member states agreed on a series of recommendations regarding a regional action plan on air cargo security.

The recommendations include new harmonized EU cargo and mail security controls, EU coordination, and a 'global approach.'

The EU said the first steps will be to define criteria for identifying cargo that represents a particular risk and to establish mechanisms to allow for the evaluation of security standards at non-EU airports. In addition, EU member states will be encouraged to accelerate the implementation of the EU's system of supply chain security, which is also known as consignor validation, and to introduce the new requirements as much as possible before the April 2013 deadline.

"The Member States and the [EU] Commission should as a matter of urgency strengthen the compliance monitoring of the cargo and mail rules," the EU said, adding that the Commission has so far made 30 cargo inspections at member state airports that show that the implementation of EU rules must be improved. The proper implementation of cargo rules is linked to effective staff training, the EU explained, as standardized training packages for staff involved in air security could ensure robust and harmonized standards.

The EU also admitted that effectively screening cargo can be challenging, but it announced that there will be further investment in research to improve the performance of current detection technologies and to come up with new possibilities. Furthermore, experts agreed that it is imperative that information about new threats is shared as quickly as possible so that member states can take action immediately. The EU recognized that it should play an 'active role' in audits and capacity building initiatives as such actions 'will not only improve the security in those countries but will also vastly benefit global trade.'