Sunday

24th Jan 2021

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.

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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.

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