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16th Oct 2021

EU steps up global counter-terrorism drive

  • EU foreign policy chief Mogherini (c) wants to expand the network of counter-terrorism experts abroad. (Photo: European Union)

The EU is stepping up counter-terrorism efforts by sending more staff to its delegations abroad.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters in Luxembourg on Monday (19 June) that she is expanding a network of counter-terrorist experts at EU embassies.

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She said the focus will be on EU delegations found in the Middle East, North Africa, the Western Balkans, Turkey, the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, and the Gulf.

"This is work that we will continue to do together with the member states," she said.

The decision followed a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday as part of a broader security and defence initiative.

The ministers described terrorism as one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.

"The EU has a vital interest in continuing to work with partners at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels," they said in a statement.

It means more counter-terrorism projects and financial support for counter-terrorism programmes in the countries.

Mogherini had already announced earlier this month that the EU would provide €50 million for a joint Shaelian military force, which is composed of troops from Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad.

The French-led initiative, also known as the G5 Sahel Joint Force, is already sending the EU a wish list of items to manage security in the region.

"Their main task is to have a common police to work on the borders and work together. They haven't decided yet if they want a joint brigade," a senior EU official told EUobserver last week.

The same official noted that the plan is also to allow troops of one country to cross over the border of another, in cases where there is a pursuit.

EU money is also going to finance the counter-terrorism training of security forces in the region under the so-called Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions.

Linking internal security to foreign affairs

Countering terrorism is part of wider policy, which is increasingly merging the work of foreign affairs ministries with that of their interior and home affair counterparts.

EU and member states are piling on the pressure for big internet firms to remove online content that is deemed to incite violence or terrorism.

The issue will be a priority talking point among EU leaders at a summit this Thursday and Friday in Brussels.

Draft summit conclusions, seen by EUobserver, emphasise stepping up internal security against terrorism by cracking down "on the spread of radicalisation online."

The leaders are pushing for the firms to come up with new tools to automatically remove the offending content.

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Pressure is mounting for social media platforms to remove any online content deemed to incite terrorism. Draft conclusions, seen by EUobserver, have made the issue a top priority in leaders' talks next week.

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Officials from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger are meeting EU foreign, defence, and development ministers next week in Brussels. The visit comes amid "unprecedented levels" of armed attacks, says the UN.

Radicalised Islamists pose-long term EU threat

Low-cost terror attacks that are difficult to prevent remain a threat for years to come given the number of radicalised Islamic militants in Europe, expert says.

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