Sunday

17th Jan 2021

EU parliament groups want inquiry into terror failures

  • 22 people, including children, died in Manchester on 22 May (Photo: Nikolaj Nielsen)

Two main political groups in the European parliament are hoping to launch a special committee to probe failures by EU states in the fight against terrorism.

The joint-announcement on Wednesday (7 June) by the centre-right EPP and the liberal Alde groups comes on the heels of the latest round of terror attacks in Manchester, London and Paris.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

A draft mandate seen by EUobserver calls for a 12-month probe into "potential faults and malfunctions" that allowed the terror attacks to be carried out in Belgium, France and Germany.

It also wants to analyse, among other things, the lack of police cooperation and problems in cross-border investigations. Hearings with sensitive or secret information would be held behind closed doors.

German EPP group leader Manfred Weber said in a statement that the issue needs extra parliamentary attention given the "failure of cooperation in Europe in the field of anti-terrorism."

He noted many of the terrorists behind the recent spate of attacks were already registered in databases.

"The exchange of this data between member states has not worked," he said.

His views were echoed by the Belgian Alde group leader, Guy Verhofstadt, who said information between intelligence services was not being shared enough.

"In the attack in London, Italian authorities did warn their British peers about one attacker, having caught him in Bologna when he was trying to reach Syria," he said.

The British authorities did not react to the Italian warning, he also noted.

The plan is to reach a consensus among all the groups, but an EPP source said resistance had emerged from the socialists.

"It would be better to have everyone on board, but the socialists are not so interested for now," noted the EPP contact.

However, a spokesperson for the socialist S&D group, the second largest in the parliament after the EPP, said that it is yet to see an official proposal.

"We don't see what a special committee can do on top of what the Libe [civil liberties committee] can do, looking at terrorism," he said.

He noted that a special committee can also only look at infringements of EU law, and wouldn't be able to force intelligence agencies to reveal state secrets.

"This is basically a cheap attempt by Weber and Verhofstadt to use the latest terror attacks in London and in Manchester as way of rehashing an old idea," he said.

A joint endeavour

The proposal to set up the inquiry may be discussed next week among the group leaders and the president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, during a meeting of the conference of presidents.

If launched, it would seek to invite intelligence services to give testimonies and explain their work.

The joint endeavour is part of a broader political agreement reached between the two groups earlier this year.

Alde had agreed to back Tajani, a centre-right Italian, as EU parliament president. In exchange, the EPP group agreed to support Alde's political priorities.

The European Commission has been working with EU member states to figure out how to improve data sharing and increase the interoperability between EU-level databases.

EU commissioner for security Julian King told MEPs in the Libe committee in late May that the effective sharing of information was a key tool in fighting terrorism.

"Unfortunately, as we've seen following some of the horrible attacks over the last two past years, there are, on occasion, weaknesses in the way our information systems are built and in the way they work," King said.

Interior ministers are also meeting in Luxembourg at the end of week to discuss the EU's largest criminal database, the Schengen information system (SIS), as well as other databases.

IT security system threatens EU rights

EU commission wants to link up all information systems on security, border, and migration, drawing a rebuke from own rights agency.

EU vows to mend terrorist data share failures

The EU is rolling out plans to improve a large police database in an effort to avoid repeats of allowing terrorists, like Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam, from slipping by police due to poor data quality.

EU Commission mulls police access to encrypted apps

The European Commission has not ruled out allowing police access to encrypted services. Instead, it says a balance needs to be found to protect rights while at the same time offering some leeway to law enforcement.

News in Brief

  1. EU court and Irish dog make history
  2. EU plans to pay farmers to reduce animal emissions
  3. Greece agrees to buy 18 French fighter jets
  4. France tightens curfew in EU corona-mosaic
  5. Von der Leyen red-faced over Croatia election video
  6. Romania to reopen schools after three-month shutdown
  7. Dutch government on brink of collapse over child allowances
  8. Netherlands loses EU court case on asylum boy

Opinion

Rule-of-law deal: major step for Europe of values

At the very moment when an incumbent president across the Atlantic was carrying out staggering attacks on the foundations of democracy, the European Parliament obtained a historic agreement to protect the rule of law in Europe.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Dutch government resigns two months before election
  2. The battle for Germany's ruling party that will change Europe
  3. Potential for future pandemics? 'Extremely high,' MEPs told
  4. Can EU keep Navalny safe as he 'defies' Putin?
  5. Italy government totters ahead of €200bn EU covid relief
  6. How to fix EU's weak Digital Services and Markets Acts
  7. Italy's government is like Schrödinger's cat
  8. MEPs to debate Portugal's EU prosecutor controversy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us