The ban on liquids is being phased out in the EU, and should be completely lifted by January 2016.
In my own personal experiences, airport security is fairly random at the best of times. A couple of examples:
Many many years ago (post Lockerbie, pre 9/11) my girlfriend at the time was returning to the US through Heathrow (she had been living in the UK studying French Patisserie for a year). Going through the security controls, the guy on the x-ray machine told one of his colleagues to check her bag - but neglected to tell him what to check for. The second guy opened it up, rummaged through a few layers of clothes and declared everything was fine. My girlfriend thought nothing more of it. Until she got home and unpacked. Her roll of rather large chef's knives were stuck in the bottom of her carry-on bag.
And secondly, about nine months after 9/11, I was returning back to the UK from Bergamo (very outer Milan) for a weekend with a backpack toting, role-playing guy off to some whatever-it-is-those-folks-go-to in front of me. The backpack was full of chain mail, assorted accessories, and a couple of very large swords sticking out the top. I swear the security guys didn't even bat an eye lid when he went through.