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MEPs examined progress made in fighting terrorism since the 22 March 2016 attacks in Brussels in Wednesday afternoon’s “topical debate”. They stressed the need to do more to ensure swift and efficient information sharing among member states and improve the interoperability of EU databases, as well as to prevent radicalization and help victims of terrorism.

MEPs underlined the need for strong controls at the EU’s external borders in the debate with EU Commissioners Dimitris Avramopoulos and Sir Julian King, and Maltese Parliamentary Secretary Ian Borg for the Council Presidency.

Several called for an assessment of existing counter-terrorism measures, to ensure that the right ones are taken and that they are properly implemented, and that they protect fundamental rights. Many also stressed the need to address the root causes of terrorism by creating inclusive societies to prevent radicalization.

In the past year, the EU has approved important counter-terrorism measures such as a directive on the use of Passenger Name Records (PNR - which should help to trace terrorists), updated rules on combatting-terrorism and new requirements to check everyone crossing EU external borders as well as new rules on Europol to allow the agency to respond faster to terrorist threats.

Further initiatives in the pipeline include reviewing the Schengen Information System and the European Criminal Records Information System and establishing a new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) to pre-screen travelers entering the EU visa free.

In September 2016, Sir Julian King was appointed as Commissioner for Security Union, a newly created portfolio.

You can watch the video recording of the debate here.

Topical debates


Parliament's new Rules of Procedure (rule 153) provide for one debate of 60-90 minutes at each part-session on a topical matter, proposed by one political group, of major interest to EU policy. Each group has the right to propose at least one such debate.