Friday

16th Nov 2018

Opinion

Terrorists do not sit still, and nor should we

  • EU Commissioner Julian King: Toughened EU anti-terror laws mean those travelling to Syria to fight for Da’esh, or those receiving terrorist training, face criminal prosecution. (Photo: European Parliament)

In the past week, Europe has once again been struck by terror.

In Barcelona and Cambrils, Spain, and in Turku, Finland, attacks have killed and injured citizens from across the continent, and across the world.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Barcelona: struck by a terrorist attack last week, claiming the lives of 13 people and leaving many more injured. (Photo: Derek Winterburn)

Those sad events remind us that, today, no corner of Europe is immune, and no country unaffected.

By whatever means they are pursued, there is nothing noble in these acts of cowardice. There can be no justification for such murder and violence.

Faced with these threats, citizens - rightly - expect us to do more than just condemn after the fact. Maintaining people’s security is a primary role of any government, and it is certainly a priority of the current European Commission, too.

We cannot promise that such attacks will not occur again. I wish we could, but in this - as in other areas - there is no such thing as “zero risk”.

What we can do is make it harder and harder for those who would seek to perpetrate murder and atrocity.

Closing loopholes

Terrorists need weapons. New EU laws, agreed earlier this year, restrict gun ownership, and close loopholes that were so tragically exploited nearly two years ago in Paris.

Meanwhile, we continue to intensify our fight against illegal trafficking through routes like the Balkans. And we've tightened controls around the materials used to build home made explosives.

Terrorists need money. Last December, we proposed new ways to combat money laundering, to tighten controls on illicit cash movements, and to freeze and confiscate the assets of suspected or convicted criminals and terrorists.

And terrorists need to move. We are making it harder for them to do so. Since last April, anyone seeking to enter or leave the EU’s Schengen passport-free travel zone faces new security checks.

Countries will share information about those flying to, from or within Europe, under new EU rules on passenger name records agreed in April 2016 - even if many EU countries still need to get moving to implement those rules.

Under our proposals for a European travel information and authorisation system, those hoping to visit the EU would have to undergo checks before even setting foot on European soil.

Finally, we are working to improve how Europe's different law enforcement information and databases talk to each other, making it harder for terrorists to assume different identities in different countries, or otherwise slip through the cracks.

Terrorists do not sit still, and nor should we. As we crack down on one form of terror, they find others to pursue. They adapt to changing technology and changing trends, and so should we.

Tackling radicalisation

So we are also taking upstream action to tackle radicalisation. EU networks help national practitioners learn from each other and support those on the front line of challenging radicalisation in our communities.

The European internet forum, grouping internet companies and national authorities, tackles radicalisation online. Around 90 percent of the terrorist content identified by Europol, the EU's police cooperation agency, gets taken offline, and we're working with the internet companies to make detection more automatic.

Toughened EU anti-terror laws mean those travelling to Syria to fight for Da’esh, or those receiving terrorist training, face criminal prosecution.

The European Commission is working with national and local authorities to identify and spread the best practice in protecting so-called 'soft targets', such as public spaces, airports, stations, schools or hospitals.

In September, I will be meeting City leaders from across the Euro-Mediterranean region, who are gathering in Nice to reinforce their efforts to tackle radicalisation and protect their citizens.

This is not the first time Europe has faced a terror threat. In recent decades, we have seen the Baader-Meinhof Gang, the Red Brigades, the Basque ETA separatist group, and the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

But today’s threat is more global. It targets our European way of life, seeks to divide our communities, and undermine our values.

When it comes to security, national authorities remain the first line of responsibility, and the first line of defence. But the EU can and does provide significant support: improving information sharing on potential threats, boosting cooperation, and cutting the space available for terrorism to thrive and spread.

When terrorism strikes, citizens across Europe rise up to show their compassion for victims, and their revulsion at the attackers’ nihilistic worldview: Je Suis Paris, I Am London, No tinc por.

We need to show that same solidarity and determination, redoubling our efforts at local, national and European level to defeat those who seek to do us harm.

Julian King is the European Commissioner for the Security Union.

Death toll rising from Barcelona attack

Twenty-four different nationalities among dead and injured in "jihadist" van attack on model of previous ones in France, Germany, and UK.

EU steps up global counter-terrorism drive

EU foreign ministers vowed to increase the number of projects and financial support in different parts of the world ahead of an EU summit in Brussels, where leaders will focus on security and defence.

US steps in to clean up Cyprus

Cyprus has overlooked undertakings on bank probity made to the EU in the context of the 2013 bailout - but it might prove harder to get the US off its back.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  2. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  3. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown
  4. Second UK cabinet minister resigns over Brexit deal
  5. UK Brexit secretary quits morning after deal agreed
  6. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  7. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
  8. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published

Why 'Spitzenkandidat' is probably here to stay

The power of the parliament to 'appoint' the president of the EU Commission is new, highly-contested - and not universally understood. In fact, even some of the lead candidates to replace Jean-Claude Juncker are against it.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  2. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  3. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  4. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  5. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  6. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot
  7. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  8. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us