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23-10-2014

European IS fighters: plans to avoid threats to EU’s internal security debated by MEPs

Concerns over the possible threats to the EU's internal security posed by Europeans returning home after fighting for the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) were raised by MEPs in a debate on Wednesday. Some called for a swift approval of the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) proposal to better detect potential terrorists entering or leaving the EU. Most stressed, however, that all measures taken by the EU to tackle this problem must respect fundamental rights.

MEPs were divided on the possible withdrawal of EU citizenship from the foreign fighters of European origin, with some stressing that the priority should be prosecuting them as criminals.


Some MEPs called for a swift approval of the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) proposal, which would oblige air carriers to provide EU countries with the data of passengers entering or leaving the EU to enable these countries to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute serious crime and terrorist offences.


Most MEPs stressed, however, that all measures taken by the EU to tackle this problem must respect fundamental rights.


The causes prompting young people to join the IS (including unemployment and poor working conditions) also need to be addressed, they added. The stigmatisation of certain groups should also be avoided.


Kobane: MEPs criticise Turkey and urge EU to do more to prevent a massacre

In a separate debate, MEPs stressed that preventing a massacre of the civilian population of the Syrian city of Kobane must be the first priority in the international community’s fight against IS. They also criticised Turkey’s inaction in the face of the threat and deplored the lack of a genuine EU strategy for the region.


Many MEPs insisted that Turkey, as an EU candidate country, should align its foreign policy much more closely with that of the EU. They regretted that Turkey’s decision to allow Kurdish Peshmergas to cross its territory in order to fight for Kobane was „too little too late“. While recognising Turkey’s positive attitude in welcoming thousands of refugees from Syria, the majority of MEPs who spoke called on the EU to step up pressure on Turkey to act to prevent a massacre in Kobane.


Many also said that the EU lacks a joint vision and strategy to combat terrorist groups in the whole of the Middle East and deplored the failure of EU member states to coordinate their efforts more closely.

Video recording of the debate