Tuesday

10th Dec 2019

EU anti-terror coordinator to step down

  • Mr De Vries was appointed after the Madrid bombings in 2004 (Photo: European Commission)

The EU's first anti-terrorism coordinator, Gijs de Vries, is to step down next month after three years on the job.

His decision not to renew his contract comes as MEPs are this week to vote on a report on the activities of the CIA in Europe.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

The report, put together over two years, looks into the extent to which member states knew about the so-called rendition flights of terrorist suspects as well as the alleged secret CIA centres in Europe.

It is highly critical of the Dutch official who appeared as a witness before the temporary committee in April last year.

Hampered by what he was allowed to say by member states, he gave only vague statements in reply to MEPs' grilling, leading one MEP to describe his appearance as "totally useless."

Their frustration has been reflected in the draft report which "questions the real substance of the post of European Union counter-terrorism coordinator occupied by Gijs de Vries, and draws attention to the lack of credibility of his statements".

However, an EU aide told Reuters news agency that the two were not linked.

"This has nothing to do with the CIA parliamentary report," he said.

Mr de Vries' post was created just days after the terrorist train bombings in Madrid which killed 191.

While his appointment was strongly backed by EU leaders, and was meant to bring some loose co-ordination into both member states' and EU institutions' activities, Mr De Vries has suffered from the fact that he has very few actual powers.

Added to this was the fact that member states have a deeply ingrained dislike of sharing information on anti-terrorism activities, which meant that the EU's anti-terror official was often side-lined.

This reluctance by national governments has also been reflected in the slow pace of implementing the bloc's anti-terror laws since the US terror attacks in September 2001.

Feature

Widow's plea as EU diplomats debate Magnitsky Act

"If evil is not defeated, it tends to expand", Natalia Magnitskaya, the widow of a Russian anti-corruption activist, has said, as EU diplomats discuss human rights sanctions 10 years after his death.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs: Finnish budget proposal 'impossible to implement'
  2. EP committee supports 'Future of EU Conference'
  3. EU survey: climate change must be parliament's priority
  4. Zahradil resigns as rapporteur on EU-Vietnam trade deal
  5. Russia plans 'Arctic Air Defence" with S-400 missiles
  6. Belgium: King does another round of consultations
  7. Thousands protest Orban's theatre clampdown
  8. Russia and Ukraine agree ceasefire by new year

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us