On March 17, 2010, The European Institute held a special breakfast meeting of its Transatlantic Roundtable on Transportation regarding transatlantic cooperation on transportation security. A delegation from the European Parliament’s Transport Committee, including Chairman The Honorable Brian Simpson (S & D Party, UK), The Honorable Mathieu Grosch (European People’s Party, Belgium), The Honorable Saïd El Khadraoui (S & D Party, Belgium), and The Honorable Gesine Meissner (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, Germany) spoke about their visit to Washington and current civil aviation security issues in the European Union. Michael Scardaville, Director for European and Multilateral Affairs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, provided a U.S. perspective on these pressing security matters. The main topics of discussion were the second U.S.-EU civil aviation agreement (Open Skies II), the U.S.-EU passenger name records agreement, privacy and human rights issues with the implementation of full body scanner in airports, the overall approach to civil aviation security, the increasing importance of high speed rail in the U.S., and the importance of the U.S. and EU to coordinate policies and procedures to ensure security on both sides of the Atlantic. A high emphasis was placed on increasing dialogue between the U.S. and EU on unresolved issues of contention. Passenger privacy and the protection of data are especially big concerns for Europe, and the U.S. and EU will continue to work together to try to find a holistic approach to providing security.

The U.S. anti-terrorist department, the Transport Security Agency (TSA), has stepped up its efforts to work with countries in Europe and other nations around the world to screen air cargo being shipped from those departure points to the U.S. As things stand, Congress continues to press for 100 percent screening, but TSA says that that it will take several years to achieve that standard on a global air cargo supply chain. That timetable was supplied in answers during a recent hearing. As things stand in March 2010, here is the basic picture as presented to Congress by TSA in a hearing: Enhancing Security throughout the Transportation System.

Excerpts of testimony of Gale D. Rossides, Acting Administrator of the Transport Security Agency (TSA), before the Subcommittee on Homeland Security in the
Committee on Appropriations of
United States House of Representatives
March 4, 2010

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High speed rail is a long-overdue concept for the U.S. economy whose time has finally come. But only European companies can bring it to pass.

President Barack Obama has promised $8 billion in stimulus funds to build the first real U.S. high-speed trains. The announcement, made by the President the day after his annual State of the Union speech in January, in which job-creation was a major theme, came in Tampa, Florida, the terminus of a planned link with Orlando. That is a prime high-speed project, along with two others: Sacramento and San Diego in California and a third one, a nine-state proposal in the Midwest with Chicago as its hub.

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The U.S. engagement in Afghanistan, including the 30,000 “plus-up” currently underway, represents one of the most difficult logistical challenges in the annals of war – a challenge even for the United States, which is the world champion of supply solutions.  Afghanistan is harder than the Vietnam “land war in Asia” or the Berlin airlift or Iraq I and II. These previous engagements, although difficult logistically, pale in comparison to the task of supplying 100,000 troops and as many contractors in Afghanistan over nine years and counting. Landlocked, mountainous, beset by civil war, banditry and extreme underdevelopment, Afghanistan is surrounded by a clutch of hostile, suspicious, barely functioning sovereignties.

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The Roundtable featured members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism who presented an overview of their priorities, including: the negotiations of the second stage of the EU-U.S. Aviation Agreement; the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme; air traffic management; the EU-U.S. agreement on aviation safety; and aviation and maritime security, including container scanning.  Members of the Committee’s delegation included: The Honorable Paolo Costa, Chairman of the Committee, The Honorable Georg Jarzembowski, and The Honorable Saïd El KhadraouiThe Honorable Jonathan Evans, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the United States was also present and underlined the importance of continued EU-U.S. cooperation on transport issues.  The United States perspective was represented by Lynne Pickard, Deputy Director of the Office of Environment and Energy at the Federal Aviation Administration, who outlined the U.S. policy regarding aviation emissions, and Michael Scardaville, Acting Director of European and Multilateral Affairs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, who addressed U.S. aviation security issues, in particular, the 100% container scanning initiative.