Intel sharing at heart of US, Europe talks on laptop ban


According to the BBC, a four-hour meeting between USA and European Union officials beat out a compromise over the looming threat of all of Europe being added to the Americans' laptop-in-the-cabin ban, with European Union partners promising to boost departure security and checks on devices.

This follows yesterday's four-hour meeting of top officials and experts in Brussels, including Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc and a USA delegation led by Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke. Some "appropriately cleared" European allies were given more detailed information about the specific threat of explosives hidden in laptops that led to the US mulling an expanded electronics ban, a senior Trump administration official said in a briefing following the meeting.

The current restrictions affect 350 USA -bound flights per week from the Middle East and North Africa, the IATA estimates.

The EU-U.S. meeting on Wednesday will involve an "information exchange", European Security Commissioner Julian King said in Strasbourg.

They discussed "existing aviation security standards and detection capabilities" as well as security improvements "related to large electronic devices placed in checked baggage", it added.

Malcolm Turnbull, the prime minister, said his government was "looking very closely" at the ban on laptops and tablets on flights from some Middle Eastern countries announced by the United States and Britain in March.

USA officials were looking into extending a ban on electronics on flights from 10 airports.

No ban was imposed after a four-hour meeting between European Union and United States officials in Brussels yesterday, but more talks have been scheduled in Washington for next week.

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It's not yet known what form the "other measures" may take, but there have been calls for better screening of passengers and their cabin baggage.

The policy has slowly spread: The United Kingdom quickly followed suit with a ban of its own, prohibiting larger devices on inbound flights from 14 airlines serving the Middle East and various African countries.

Reuters reported last week that the Trump administration would likely expand a ban on laptops on commercial aircraft to include some European countries but was reviewing how to ensure lithium batteries stored in holds do not explode in midair, citing officials briefed on the matter.

At the Delta area of the Cincinnati airport, a sign warned passengers that beginning Friday on flights returning to the USA any electronic devices other than a cellphone would have to be placed in checked baggage. British Airways would also suffer.

A current proposal from the Department of Homeland Security to mandate that large electronic devices be relegated to checked luggage is facing stiff resistance from airlines and business travelers.

"Secretary Kelly make his decisions based on the intelligence and the threat and if that points to a decision being made in the next several days or next several weeks, he's going to do that".

Any expansion of the ban could affect USA and European carriers such as United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines Group.