Speaking at the 2016 ACI EUROPE Annual Congress and General Assembly in Athens on Tuesday, Augustin de Romanet, ACI EUROPE President and President & CEO of Aéroports de Paris SA/Groupe ADP, warned of additional challenges to risk-based security and intelligence sharing which a potential Brexit would pose.

Praising the European Union for not imposing systematic screening at the entrance of Europe’s airport terminals after the attacks on Brussels Airport, de Romanet said we need “more Europe, not less of it.”

He also warned that risks to aviation—indeed to any public space in Europe—increase when the exchange of information and cooperation between agencies breaks down.

”Let us be clear: efficient, robust security is not and has never been about stopping terrorists once they are at an airport. It is about detecting and stopping them before they ever reach an airport… Or a train station, or a concert hall. If they manage to get to one of these places, it means we have already lost,” de Romanet said.

He expressed concern that a possible Brexit would reverse progress on a security agenda, making it harder for the UK and EU to address risks without each other.

Additionally, de Romanet said Britain staying in the European Union is good for all parties, fostering continued growth of connectivity for travellers and benefiting local economies.

“[A]irports thrive and connectivity grows when markets are integrated and common rules apply – which is precisely what the EU has done for aviation,” he said.

Olivier Jankovec, ACI EUROPE’s Director General also addressed the repercussions of the United Kingdom exiting the European Union by suggesting they might worsen the decline in passenger numbers Europe’s airports have experienced during the first part of this year.

“Whether this weakness is an outlier or an indication that we might be at the top of a cycle remains to be seen,” Jancovec said. “What is certain is that downturn risks are increasing and that they are mainly of a geopolitical nature—with terrorism, mounting political instability and this week’s Brexit referendum topping the list.”

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