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Terrorism - A common threat

Police cooperation / Justice and home affairs / External relations / Security and defence 06-12-2016 - 11:07 / Updated: 03-04-2017 - 15:45

Nearly all European countries have been affected by terrorism in one form or another and tackling it has never been easy. The attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015 demonstrated once again the challenge of finding a rapid and effective response to those who would destroy us, while safeguarding our freedom and way of life. (Read more: Terrorism: a threat without borders)

Only days after the terrorist attack in London the civil liberties committee discussed the EU's security situation with German Interior Minister Interior Thomas de Maizière and his French counterpart Matthias Fekl debated on 27 March. Both ministers spoke about the need to secure the EU's external borders, to better share information between EU countries and to address the new challenges of radicalisation and terrorism. (Read more: Security: "We need to work quickly and effectively in order to combat terrorism")

All EU citizens and third country nationals entering or leaving the EU will be systematically checked against databases, e.g. of lost and stolen documents, under a regulation voted on Thursday. The new rules were agreed by Parliament’s negotiators and the Council of Ministers on 5 December 2016. (Read more: Stopping foreign fighters at EU external borders)

Terrorists have been able to make use of reconverted weapons but new rules aim to put an end to this. Yesterday the internal market committee approved an update of the EU firearms directive to ensure that any firearm which has been converted to firing blanks continues to be covered by EU law. UK ECR member Vicky Ford, the MEP responsible for steering the new rules through Parliament, said: “The goal of this legislation was to close the loophole that was exploited during the Paris attacks.” (Read more: Vicky Ford: "The goal of gun control legislation is to close loophole exploited by terrorists")

The EU police agency Europol will soon be able to step up efforts to fight terrorism, cybercrime and other criminal offences and respond faster to threats, thanks to new governance rules approved by Parliament on Wednesday. The new powers come with strong data protection safeguards and democratic oversight tools. (Read more: Police cooperation: MEPs approve new powers for Europol to fight terrorism)

The new directive regulating the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data in the EU for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime was approved by Parliament on Thursday. It will oblige airlines to hand national authorities passengers' data for all flights from third countries to the EU and vice versa. (Read more: Parliament backs EU directive on use of Passenger Name Records (PNR))

The terrorist attacks in Brussels on 22 March showed the need for better cooperation in the fight against terrorism in Europe. In the wake of these events, MEPs debate counter-terrorism strategies with Commission and Council representatives in plenary on Tuesday 12 April (Read more: Fight against terrorism: MEPs to debate counter-terrorism strategies)

As terrorists continue to strike across the globe, MEPs discussed the best way to tackle the increasing threat. During the debate on Thursday morning speakers stressed the importance of exchanging information as well as the need to strengthen border controls and called on member states to step up collaboration. (Read more: Terrorism debate: “The threat seems to be increasing in the EU and further afield”)

In the wake of the terrorists attacks in Paris on 13 November, the fight against terrorism remains at the top of the European Parliament's agenda. On Monday 30 November and Tuesday 1 December, the civil liberties committee discussed how the EU's strategy could be improved. (Read more: Parliament's response to terrorist threat: Europol, passenger records, need for common action)

“Political grandstanding” that equates refugees with terrorists only foments the hatred and disillusion that inspires those who join terrorist groups, argued many MEPs in Wednesday’s debate. Rather than allow Europe’s freedoms and tolerance to be eroded, EU countries must strive to strengthen security, by stepping up intelligence cooperation and data-sharing, and investing in the skills and technology needed to fight terrorism, MEPs urged. (Read more: Don’t equate refugees with terrorists – boost security instead, urge MEPs )

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier discussed the repercussions of Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris with the foreign affairs committee on 16 November. "There are no obvious recipes for tackling terrorism," Steinmeier said, adding "Military action alone will not be sufficient in overcoming the problem." Meanwhile committee chair Elmar Brok, a German EPP member, warned against confusing migration and terrorism: "Refugees are the victims of terror, not part of the terror." (Read more: German Foreign Minister: "There are no obvious recipes for tackling terrorism")

Terrorism continues to pose a threat to Europe's security, but what is the best way to tackle it? The Parliament's civil liberties committee held a hearing on 14 April to discuss with experts the evolving terrorist threats, the fight against extremism and radicalisation and what the EU could do to help. (Read more: Terrorism: tackling the threats to the EU's security)

Timothy Kirkhope is the MEP responsible for drafting the Parliament's report on the Passeneger Name Record (PNR) proposal. He describes PNR as “very important when dealing not only with recent events like terrible terrorism attacks in Paris, but also of course with major criminality”. As the debate over PNR intensifies, watch our video where he addresses questions and concerns from NGOs and airlines over the balance between freedom and security. (Read more: Timothy Kirkhope: "PNR is a key tool for tackling terrorism and criminality")

The European Parliament has marked a minute of silence to commemorate the victims of the deadly attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo. MEPs and staff members were joined by members of the public as they stood outside the Parliament building in Brussels on 8 January to pay their respects to the 12 people who died the previous day. “Like you, like all of us, I am Charlie,” said EP President Martin Schulz in a short statement before the minute of silence. (Read more: “Je suis Charlie”: Parliament pays tribute to victims of Charlie Hebdo attack)

Europeans becoming radicalised and travelling to fight in Iraq or Syria represent a growing threat to the EU. Most of the recent terrorist attacks in Europe were perpetrated by home-grown terrorists. MEPs adopted on 16 February new rules to ensure stronger checks at the EU's external borders and prevent the preparation of terrorist acts. Check out our infographic for an overview of measures to tackle terrorism Parliament has been working on. (Read more: Infographic: how Parliament is addressing the terrorism threat)

To counter the growing threats from “foreign fighters” travelling to conflict zones for terrorist purposes and “lone wolves” planning solo attacks, new EU-wide rules were approved by Parliament on Thursday. (Read more: Preventing terrorism: clampdown on foreign fighters and lone wolves )

Parliament is working on a range of measures to crack down on terrorism. MEPs are due to vote on plans to make the preparation of terror attacks a criminal offence throughout the EU as well to impose checks on European citizens entering and leaving the EU. Some 5,000 Europeans already travelled to conflict zones to join terrorist groups and returning fighters pose a security risk. Watch our video to find out more about Parliament’s efforts to help Europe fight terrorism. (Read more: No more: fighting terrorism on all fronts)

Europol, as the EU's law enforcement agency, helps member states fight terrorism and international crime. It is due to be given additional powers to help it to tackle terrorism better, under plans approved by MEPs on Wednesday 11 May. Find out more about Europol in our infographic. (Read more: Fight against terrorism: Parliament approves updated powers for Europol)

The terrorist attacks in Paris last November have led to the European Commission proposing updated rules to prevent guns ending up in the wrong hands. However, could these new rules have unintended consequences? The internal market committee debated the proposals and their possible impact with experts during a hearing on Tuesday 15 March. (Read more: Crime prevention: experts speak out on new gun control rules)

The mutual defence clause, requiring EU countries to help a member state under attack, was invoked for the first time by France in November in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris. In a resolution adopted on 21 January, MEPs said this cooperation should serve to strengthen European security and defence and also called for a stronger role for EU institutions. Check out our infographic and learn more about the legal basis and its implications. (Read more: Mutual defence clause: what the requirement to help out other member states means)

Crime and terrorism doesn't stop at the borders so the European Police office - better known as Europol - helps EU countries to fight these international menaces. However, as threats evolve, so should Europol. National governments have now agreed to upgrade the agency's counter-terrorism capabilities. The civil liberties committee votes on Europol’s new powers on Monday 30 November. Read on to find out more about what Europol does. (Read more: Europol: helping EU countries fight international crime and terrorism)

MEPs and Parliament staff sang the Marseillaise and held a minute of silence to commemorate the victims of last week’s terrorist acts in Paris during a short ceremony on 17 November in Parliament's plenary chamber in Brussels. “The attacks in Paris were an attack on our freedoms, an attack against our European values and our way of life, an attack against all of us," said EP President Martin Schulz. "In our grief, we Europeans stand side to side with the French people." (Read more: “We will not be poisoned by these criminals”: Parliament honours Paris victims)

An estimated 5,000 European citizens have joined terrorist organisations fighting in Iraq and Syria. With the issue of foreign fighters posing challenges for governments across the EU, a report on preventing the radicalisation and recruitment of Europeans by terrorist organisations was adopted by the civil liberties committee on 19 OCtober. Ahead of the vote, we asked Rachida Dati, the French EPP member who drafted the report, why it is important to address this phenomenon at EU level. (Read more: Rachida Dati on the radicalisation of EU citizens: "A truly European response is needed")

With the threat of terrorism growing every day, the task of Gilles de Kerchove, the EU’s counter-terrorism coordinator, becomes increasingly more important. It’s his job to coordinate the Council's work in combating terrorism, keep an eye on all the instruments available to the EU and make policy recommendations. We talked to him about how terrorism should be fought and the role the European Parliament could play. (Read more: EU counter-terrorism coordinator: “Jail is a major incubator of radicalisation”)

After the initial shock came the reactions. Just days after the attacks in Paris, governments and politicians started calling for more tools to fight terrorism. How will such measures sit alongside the rights of citizens to privacy or freedom of movement? We talked to Anna Elżbieta Fotyga, chair of the subcommittee on security and defence, and Claude Moraes, chair of the justice committee. (Read more: Security vs civil liberties: the impact of the Paris terrorist attacks)

REF. : 20151125TST04632
Overview of the combat against terrorism

As the EU looks to draw together measures to fight terrorism, MEPs and experts give their views on some of them

Europol: new powers to fight terrorism

New rules seek to increase police cooperation and information sharing for more effective counter terrorism in Europe.

Press releases
Combatting terrorism: Europe's judicial response

MEP Monika Hohlmeier and Michèle Coninsx, President of Eurojust, discuss how to prevent radicalisation and counter foreign fighters.

MEPs approve PNR agreement

After long-haul negotiations, MEPs have approved new legislation on sharing air passenger data to help prevent terrorist attacks and serious crime.

Brussels attacks: the political aftermath

"Share intelligence better" is the key demand of MEPs seeking to tackle terrorism across the continent.

Warnings that EU gun control rules could backfire

MEPs look to strike the balance between preventing terrorists from having access to firearms and safeguarding the rights of collectors and hunters.

Europol: fighting crime and terrorism in Europe

In the light of the recent Paris attacks, MEPs vote to make Europol -the European police office - more effective and urge EU countries to fully cooperate.

How can we prevent radicalisation?

In an interview recorded just before the Paris attacks, French MEP Rachida Dati talks about the things Europe should do to prevent terrorist organisations from radicalising and recruiting people.