Sunday

16th Jun 2019

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.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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.

Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue

Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comin currently live outside Spain. They were prosecuted for the serious crimes, and they have fled justice. It is not possible to judge in absentia in Spain, where the justice system protects the rights of defendants.

News in Brief

  1. EU plans to restructure eurozone bonds
  2. EU ups US imports in beef deal
  3. Unicef: UK among 'least family-friendly' in Europe
  4. Czech PM: No joint 'V4' candidate in commission race
  5. Johnson tops first round to replace May, three eliminated
  6. Bratislava will host new European Labour Authority
  7. Juncker cautions against further climate goals
  8. Study: Counterfeit medicine is a 'growing threat' in EU

Six takeaways on digital disinformation at EU elections

For example, Germany's primetime TV news reported that 47 percent of political social media discussions were related to the extreme-right AfD party, when in fact this was the case only for Twitter - used by only four percent of Germans.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  2. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK
  3. EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit
  4. MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower
  5. Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue
  6. Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC
  7. Europe's oil supplies 'at risk' after tanker attacks
  8. EU paths fork for Albania and North Macedonia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us