The European Union has warned that air passengers will face chaos if European airports don’t lift the ban on carrying liquids on planes at the same time.

The UK has refused to take part in the first phase of relaxing the ban this week, prompting fears that different regimes will be in force across Europe.

From Friday, passengers transferring on flights originating outside the EU should now be allowed to carry duty free purchases, such as perfume or booze, onto connecting flights.

But the UK’s transport secretary Philip Hammond has refused to go ahead with this phase because of fears about security.

EU transport commissioner Silim Kallas said that the all countries will need to meet the April 2013 deadline for lifting the liquid ban or the consequences will be “disastrous”.

Queues would be expected at airports as passengers travel from countries that allow liquids onto planes to countries that don’t allow liquids on planes.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The safety of the travelling public remains paramount. It remains our intention that the restrictions on liquids will be lifted by 2013.”