Homeland Security (DHS) officials met with their European Union counterparts in Brussels earlier this week to discuss security concerns and a controversial U.S. proposal to ban laptops and other electronics from U.S.-bound flights.
DHS and the European Commission issued a joint statement afterwards indicating that they have “reaffirmed their commitment to working closely together” and will meet again in Washington, DC next week.
DHS already put regulations in place in March to bar airline passengers from 10 airports in Muslim-majority countries from carrying laptop computers, iPads and other devices larger than a cell phone aboard direct inbound flights. The U.S. ban covers airports in eight countries, including busy hubs in Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The U.K. implemented a similar ban the same week that the U.S. measure went into effect.
U.S. authorities are reportedly considering expanding the laptop ban to U.S.-bound flights from other parts of the world, including Europe. The proposed expansion would affect more than 400 daily flights carrying up to 65 million people annually, DHS said.
A DHS spokesperson told USA Today that the plan has not been affected by reports that President Trump may have shared classified information about airline security threats with Russian officials during a meeting last week. DHS Secretary John Kelly has not made a final decision on extending the ban, but travel associations have warned that the ban could severely curtail travel on trans-Atlantic flights.
“The ripple effects of this could create an economic tsunami of the likes of which terrorists are dreaming of but instead it would be at the hand of government directive,” said Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition in a letter to EU Council Chairwoman Violeta Bulc.