Fight against terrorism: EU and all Member States must use all available means to deliver, Parliament says
The European Parliament is determined to continue its work on a range of counter-terrorism measures to ensure the safety of EU citizens. Council and Parliament have already worked out agreements on issues such as EUROPOL, cyber security and data transfers for law enforcement purposes.
There is a strong political will in the European Parliament to adopt as soon as possible the package agreed with the Council last December, which comprises the EU passenger name record (PNR) system and the Data Protection Regulation and Directive. Parliament therefore urged the Council to accelerate its adoption of the data protection reform to enable the Parliament to adopt the entire package already end of April.
Parliament urges member states to step up information-sharing and ensure that all existing legislative instruments are fully implemented and operational.
Attending today's extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs meeting to convey Parliament's support and sympathy with the Belgian people, Vice-President of the European Parliament Sylvie Guillaume (S&D, FR) said:
"Europe will not bow to terrorism. Our unity and determination to uphold our values and rights are only made stronger.
European citizens rightly expect concrete action from their governments and the EU to counter terrorism. This must cover every aspect of the threat, from prevention to protection and prosecution, as repeatedly stressed by Parliament. There is no single solution to stop the terrorist threat.
There is a strong political will in the European Parliament to adopt as soon as possible the package agreed with the Council last December, which comprises the EU passenger name record (PNR) system and the Data Protection Regulation and Directive. We are just as impatient as the Council to see the laws put onto the statute book. We have repeatedly stressed that the bulk collection of passenger data which the PNR foresees needs to go hand-in-hand with proper data protection standards. Parliament therefore urges the Council to accelerate the timetable for the adoption of the Data Protection reform to enable the Parliament to adopt the package already end of April. It should also be recalled that Parliament shortened the time member states have to implement the new rules from 3 years to 2 years, and that nothing prevents member states from starting to implement the new rules immediately so as to ensure the shortest possible delay before the system is operational. Several have already received funding for it from the Commission.
Parliament is also working intensively on a number of security-related files to step up the fight against terrorism, including additional budgets and powers to EUROPOL, Cyber Security, enhancing checks at the external borders, reviewing legislation on firearms, exchanging criminal records and criminalising the preparation of terrorist acts.
Parliament urges member states to step up information-sharing and ensure that all existing legislative instruments are fully implemented and operational. Are all Member States using the Schengen Information System systematically? Is the exchange of information between national police forces, the so-called "Prüm" Convention, fully implemented? A clear demonstration of political will and regular monitoring of progress is needed here", Guillaume concluded.
Security-related files which the Parliament is currently working on:
- Last November, an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council on a stronger mandate for EUROPOL, including a European Counter Terrorism Centre operational since early January; plenary adoption is scheduled in May;
- Last December, a political agreement was reached on the EU PNR Directive and on the Data Protection Regulation and Directive; plenary adoption will take place as soon as possible;
- Last December, a political agreement was reached on the Cybersecurity Directive; plenary adoption in May;
In addition to these legislative acts, Parliament last November also proposed a detailed plan to fight radicalisation. Many of these proposals, including enhanced checks at the external borders, have since been taken up by the Commission and embedded in new legislative proposals.
In the coming weeks, MEPs are expected to:
- Fast-track approval by the Plenary on 14 April of the Amending Budget No 1, which increases the staff of EUROPOL by 25 to the counter-terrorism centre;
- To start negotiations on extending the exchange of criminal records (“ECRIS”) to third country nationals. The lead MEP, Timothy Kirkhope (ECR, UK) expects to have a Parliament mandate at the end of May;
- To start negotiations on the Terrorism Directive, lead MEP Monika Hohlmeier (EPP, DE) hopes to receive a mandate from the Civil Liberties Committee to begin negotiations with the Council at the end of April;
- To start negotiations on the amendment of the Schengen Borders Code to introduce checks on EU nationals at the external borders. Lead MEP Monica Macovei (ECR, RO) envisages starting negotiations with the Council end of May aiming to reach an agreement under the Dutch Presidency;
- Proposal for a review of the Firearms Directive, Chair of the Internal Market Committee and lead MEP Vicky Ford (ECR, UK) expects to have a negotiation mandate by the end of June.
- Parliament will give priority to a further revision of the Money Laundering Directive and more generally to take forward the February action plan to fight the financing of terrorism and organised crime.