Airline passengers with transit connections in the European Union no longer have to surrender bottles of alcohol or perfume purchased at non-EU airports.

Last year the EU limited air passengers to carrying small containers of liquids or gels in sealed plastic bags on board planes after British authorities said they had foiled an attempt to blow up aircraft using liquid explosives.

But duty-free items bought at airports outside the EU became a casualty of the new rules.

Passengers who bought whiskey or other liquid items outside of Europe had to give them up when changing planes in the EU, even though the items would have been purchased after security checkpoints in the departure country.

The European Commission said the new measures will allow passengers to keep such products if they were purchased in countries with security standards that match those of the EU.

The Commission will examine airport security standards in other countries, sometimes by sending EU experts to conduct inspections, and will then exempt passengers from handing over liquid products if their home countries make the grade.

A spokesman for Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot said the focus would initially be on nations with high numbers of passengers flying to the EU, such as the US, Russia and Singapore.