Monday

26th Jun 2017

EU ministers vow new counter-terrorism rules after Paris attack

  • Paris: around 20,000 people also marched in Brussels on Sunday (Photo: Moyan Brenn)

Top officials at an international ministerial meeting in Paris on Sunday (11 January) vowed an immediate response to last week's Charlie Hebdo attack.

As well over a million people attended a march in Paris, a handful of EU ministers along with US attorney general Eric Holder announced their intentions to step up counter-terrorism efforts.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"Only if we work together, through sharing of information, by pooling our resources, will we ultimately be able to defeat those who are in a struggle with us about our fundamental values," said Holder.

The meeting, which was also attended by the EU’s counter-terrorism coordinator and the EU commissioner for home affairs, laid out a list of policy priorities to tackle what is seen as the growing threat of foreign fighters returning home.

The fear is that the some 2,500 EU nationals that have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight along Islamic militants may come back to the EU even more radicalised.

The Jewish museum shootings in Brussels last year and now the Paris attack have led to intensified calls to shore up security at the EU’s external borders, increase Internet surveillance measures, and pass new laws that could criminalise foreign fighters.

Ministers from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the UK attended Sunday’s meeting.

Latvia, holding the EU presidency, has called for an EU-wide ministerial meeting of home affairs this week in Brussels to discuss new counter-terrorism measures.

"The fight against all forms of expression of terrorism is high on my agenda and Latvia as the current Presidency of the Council of the EU will definitely draw specific attention to this issue,” said Latvia's interior minister Rihards Kozlovskis.

This includes making travelling for terrorism or related training a serious criminal offence.

The idea stems from the legally binding UN security council resolution 2178, adopted last September, which calls upon national governments to insert the offence into their legal systems.

EU home affairs ministers backed it in October and then again in December after Gilles de Kerchove, the EU's counter-terrorism coordinator, proposed revising the so-called EU 2002 framework decision on combating terrorism.

France inserted the new rules into national law in November. They impose sentences of up to ten years and fines of up to €150,000 on “anyone found to be simultaneously in possession of dangerous objects or substances (such as explosives and weapons), and consulting terrorist websites or receiving terrorist training.”

According to transparency NGO La Quadrature du Net, the French government, in the immediate aftermath of the Paris attack, passed further decrees that allows authorities to shut down, without getting a court order, websites advocating or provoking terrorism.

Other member states are also in the process of following the UN resolution demands, Spain's interior minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz told the El Pais newspaper on Sunday.

Proposals also include tightening the EU’s external borders by amending the Schengen Borders Code governing free movement.

National governments already have the right, under strict conditions, to impose temporary internal border controls.

Diaz hinted more border controls are needed to counter the jihadist threat.

Countering radicalisation on the Internet, widely seen as a recruitment tool for potential jihadists, also figure on the counter-terrorism list.

Major internet providers are being asked to help “combat terrorist propaganda” and stop the spread of “hatred and violence” on the web.

Ministers also want Belgium to set up a so-called Syria strategic communication advisory team (SSCAT), bankrolled by the EU.

The SSCAT would be tasked to help national governments "support messages countering terrorism".

Sunday’s ministerial has also added to pressure on the European Parliament to sign off on a EU data-sharing bill that would require airlines to hand over customer details to the police.

The bill has been stuck for the past three years, amid concerns by several MEPs that it will violate fundamental rights, like privacy.

Europe shocked by Copenhagen terror attack

Similar to the Charlie Hebdo terror in Paris, freedom of expression was the first target in Copenhagen followed by an attack on a Jewish community.

Opinion

Why Schengen deserves to be saved

Far-right parties around Europe have managed to turn the passport-free Schengen area into a game of political hot potato despite its numerous benefits.

News in Brief

  1. Seasoned finance minister takes over Dutch coalition talks
  2. British PM closes government deal with Northern Irish party
  3. Merkel on collision course with US at G20 summit
  4. Schulz outlines German election strategy, hits out at Merkel
  5. Berlusconi's party sees comeback in Italian local votes
  6. Low turnout in Albanian election set to mandate EU future
  7. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  8. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  3. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  4. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  5. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  6. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  7. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  8. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  9. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  10. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  11. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  12. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?