REPORT on a proposal for a recommendation from the European Parliament to the Council on terrorist attacks: prevention, preparation and response

26.5.2005 - (2005/2043(INI))

Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
Rapporteur: Jaime Mayor Oreja

Procedure : 2005/2043(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  
Texts tabled :
Texts adopted :


on terrorist attacks: prevention, preparation and response


The European Parliament,

- having regard to the proposal for a recommendation to the Council tabled by Alexander Nuno Alvaro on behalf of the ALDE Group, on an EU integrated approach to preventing, preparing for and responding to all types of terrorist attacks and dealing with their consequences (B6‑0081/2005),

- having regard to Title V of the Treaty on European Union,

- having regard to Title VI of the Treaty on European Union, and in particular its Articles 29, 30, 31, 32, 34, 39 and 42,

- having regard the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, and in particular its Articles I-43 and III-284,

- having regard to the twelve UN conventions on fighting terrorism,

- having regard to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, adopted on 17 July 1998 by the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries,

- having regard to the Action Plan against terrorism adopted by the extraordinary European Council in Brussels on 21 September 2001,

- having regard to the declarations of the informal meeting of heads of state and government held in Ghent on 19 October 2001,

- having regard to the conclusions of the Laeken European Council of 14 and 15 December 2001,

- having regard to the Council decision of 28 February 2002 setting up Eurojust with a view to reinforcing the fight against serious crime[1],

- having regard to the Council framework decision of 13 June 2002 on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States[2],

- having regard to the Council framework decision of 13 June 2002 on the fight against terrorism[3],

- having regard to the Council framework decision of 13 June 2002 on joint investigation teams[4] in the criminal sphere involving two or more Member States,

- having regard to Council Framework Decision 2003/577/JAI of 22 July 2003 on the execution in the European Union of orders freezing property or evidence[5],

- having regard the conclusions of the Brussels European Council of 25 and 26 March 2004,

- having regard the declaration of the European Council of 25 March 2004 on the fight against terrorism,

- having regard to the conclusions of the Brussels European Council of 17 and 18 June 2004,

- having regard to the EU's revised action plan/working plan to fight terrorism adopted by the European Council at its meeting of 17 and 18 June 2004,

- having regard to the conclusions of the Brussels European Council of 4 and 5 November 2004,

- having regard to the Hague programme: strengthening freedom, security and justice in the European Union[6], adopted by the Brussels European Council of 4 and 5 November 2004,

- having regard to the conclusions of the Brussels European Council of 16 and 17 December 2004,

- having regard to the Commission communications on the prevention of and the fight against terrorist financing through measures to improve the exchange of information, to strengthen transparency and enhance the traceability of financial transactions (COM(2004) 700), preparedness and consequence management in the fight against terrorism (COM(2004) 701), and critical infrastructure protection in the fight against terrorism (COM(2004) 702),

- having regard to the Commission communication to the Council and the European Parliament on measures to be taken to combat terrorism and other forms of serious crime, in particular to improve exchanges of information (COM(2004) 221),

- having regard to the draft Council framework decision on simplifying the exchange of information and intelligence between law enforcement authorities of the Member States of the European Union, in particular as regards serious offences including terrorist acts (10215/04),

- having regard to Rules 114(3) and 94 of its Rules of Procedure,

- having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A6‑0166/2005),

A.  whereas the European Union’s main priority as regards preparing for and responding to terrorist attacks is the Community institutions’ and the Member States’ ability to prevent terrorist attacks,

B.  whereas from the political viewpoint the main risk facing the EU institutions with regard to terrorism is that the people of Europe will feel defenceless in the face of terrorist acts, especially at the moment when an attack happens,

C   whereas in order to tackle terrorism it is not sufficient to draw up a lengthy, generic list of proposals for action,

D.  whereas the fight against terrorism, whether as a response to terrorist attacks or not, at all times must imply the protection of human rights and respect for fundamental freedoms, as an essential element and symbol of identity of our institutions, and whereas any emergency legislation must be in accordance with the respect of human rights, fundamental freedoms and data protection requirements,

E   whereas the fight against terrorism calls for specific strategies in respect of each terrorist organisation, for which reason the social structure and the strategy of such organisations should be taken into account when new means of pursuing that fight are being devised,

F.   whereas the diffuse and unpredictable nature of terrorist organisations always works in their favour, since no-one knows with certainty the precise scope of their activity or the extent of support they enjoy, it is essential, in order to combat them effectively, to understand these organisations and the social context which nurtures and sustains them,

G.  whereas these organisations are not limited by borders or to specific geographical areas, often abuse the lack of transparency in ‘failed and failing states’, and are capable of having devastating effects in different countries at the same time,

H.  whereas, in the context of evaluating the threats to the Union, terrorism in all its manifestations is an emerging phenomenon which remains imperfectly understood in terms of operational structure and the timing and rhythm of attacks,

I.    whereas there is no contradiction between showing respect for Islam and making it clear that terrorism by fundamentalist Islamist groups is the gravest threat to stability that EU institutions will have to face in the coming years, stresses the need to ensure that Muslims do not suffer discrimination because of their faith, and reiterates that under no circumstances should Islam be equated with terrorism,

J.    whereas vigorously standing for pluralism, diversity, human rights and peaceful dialogue is the best means of preventing and remedying the radicalisation and harmful social polarisation that are often part and consequence of the terrorist phenomenon,

K.  whereas prevention should be based on information, on an ongoing public debate on the terrorist threat, on a collective rejection of terrorism as a political strategy, on an analysis of the reasons used by some to justify a refusal to reject terrorism, bearing in mind that there is always a need to try to avoid causing undue alarm and misrepresenting the true nature of the threat,

L.   whereas the EP is the main European forum for dialogue with society and between the various EU institutions, and should therefore be in a position to share information regarding terrorist organisations and their modus operandi, and the Union’s efforts to fight them,

M.  whereas prevention necessitates anticipating the seriousness of the risk, so that public opinion realises that all possible human and political efforts have been made to prevent attacks from happening, and whereas a thorough-going and sustained prevention policy must, in cases where an attack cannot be prevented, ensure that there is no crisis of confidence in the political project of the European institutions arising from a perception that they have failed,

N.  whereas, in order to deal with this specific form of terrorism, the EU needs to define and put into practice a European political project that can be easily identified by European citizens and promotes internal and external security, not only a list of general measures,

O.  whereas a political response can only exist if there is prevention, since otherwise the reaction at European level can only be inadequate and disorganised,

P.   whereas the EU’s internal and external security policies should be consistent and, to this end, be reflected in the functioning of its institutions,

1.  Makes the following recommendation to the Council:

A) as regards prevention, calls on the Council to:

(a)  convert the existing list of detailed and general anti-terrorist initiatives into a comprehensive and coherent European political project for fighting terrorism and its roots, both in and outside the Union;

(b) support fully the current efforts and, if necessary and appropriate, create new instruments and platforms to enable and promote diagnosis and exchange of information between police forces and between intelligence services regarding terrorist organisations and their modus operandi, while respecting data protection principles,

(c)  monitor the role played by financial institutions in the transfer of money in order to prevent suspect financial flows from being used to fund terrorist activities;

(d)  develop all necessary instruments for exchange of information regarding suspected terrorists and their organisations with third countries and international organisations, while ensuring respect for privacy and data protection principles;

(e)  create a forum for the exchange of information between all the European institutions, on the basis of twice-yearly meetings aimed at furthering such exchange in this case, not of operational information but of data on the strategy and modus operandi of the terrorist organisations and the Union’s efforts to fight these organisations;

(f)   conduct wide-ranging preventive action based on a dialogue between cultures and religions with a view to promoting mutual awareness and understanding and to restricting any attempt at fundamentalist propaganda designed to assist the recruitment of terrorists;

(g)  give its clear support to the pilot project advanced by the EP with a view to facilitating the exchange of information between police forces, taking Community data protection legislation into account;

(h) encourage the increasing specialisation of Europol and Eurojust in the fight against this form of terrorism, strengthen their role in diagnosis and in the activation of the European mechanisms for exchange of information between the European Union police authorities and the Member States and promote mutual trust in European mechanisms for exchange of information between European Union police authorities and the Member States,

(i)   ensure that the training and specialisation courses of the European Police College take full account of all forms of terrorism, given its deep significance for the Union's future;

(j)   include representatives of the EP, with a view to ensuring their participation in non-operational information, in the twice-yearly meetings bringing together the heads of SCIFA, CATS, EUROPOL, EUROJUST, EBA, CPTF and SitCen;

(k)  promote EU legislation designed to provide maximum control over the diversion and stockpiling of chemical precursors which may be used in the manufacture of explosives;

B) as regards response, calls on the Council to:

(a)  further develop the protocols and measures to be applied automatically after an attack;

(b)  provide the Office of the European Anti-Tourism Coordinator with the resources it needs in order to devise and coordinate a response to a terrorist attack, thereby ensuring that the response will be as integrated and effective as possible,

 the response should involve awareness-raising and the promotion of social mobilisation in each and every one of the EU Member States and not only the one in which the attack has occurred;

 the response will also take into account the provision of essential care to victims and their families.

(c)  give its backing to the following measures to aid the victims of terrorism:

 creation of a European Office to Aid Victims of Terrorism based at the Commission, as a reference and contact point vis-à-vis the EU institutions;

 drawing-up of a draft UN convention on the rights of the victims of terrorism;

 support for the Commission's initiative for applying the Solidarity Fund to terrorism and using it as an instrument for compensation;

 consolidation of the pilot project for aiding victims of terrorism by creating a permanent budget heading,

 -support for harmonisation of the definition of the offence of making threats against individuals including the victims of terrorism and the corresponding penalties,

(d)  support Community programmes offering protection for victims who are witnesses of terrorist acts;

2.   Instructs its President to forward this recommendation to the European Council, the Council, and, for information, the Commission, the national Governments and Parliaments of the Member States, the Council of Europe, and the UN and its specialised agencies.

  • [1]  OJ L 63, 6.3.2002, p. 1.
  • [2]  OJ L 190, 18.7.2002, p. 1.
  • [3]  OJ L 164, 22.6.2002, p. 3.
  • [4]  OJ L 162, 20.6.2002, p. 1.
  • [5]  OJ L 196, 2.8.2003, p. 45.
  • [6]  OJ C 53, 3.3.2005, p.1.



The greatest risk to democracy and coexistence in Europe today is the terrorism promoted by radical Islamist groups.

The role of the EU institutions in prevention may be summarised in terms of two priority objectives for preventing attacks.

These priority terrorist prevention objectives for the institutions should be:

A.- to endeavour to prevent attacks by means of a European-level project for improving the information flow between the different police forces and authorities;

B.- to ensure that the effort being made by the EU institutions is replicated in society.

Where an attack cannot be prevented, it is essential that all the necessary effort should have been made and transferred during the time concerned, since only thus is it possible to prevent an attack leading to a generalised crisis of confidence.

It is necessary to maintain the requisite political effort, developing and regularly publicising a diagnosis by the EU institutions concerning this form of terrorism, which should be the subject of regular debates in the EP where circumstances demand it.

As things stand, the Council Presidency draws up a document evaluating the terrorist threat every six months, but this document is confidential. It would be preferable if its contents could, as far as possible, be explained to Parliament.

The greatest risk in present circumstances is that the sensation of paralysis, of inaction, of not knowing what to do should spread beyond the EU institutions, and that feelings of this nature on the part of the people of Europe towards the Union institutions should dominate at the very moment when an attack could take place.

To deal with this emerging phenomenon, it is not enough to make a long list of actions, many of them general in nature.

We need to set priorities, to be clear what kind of organisation(s) we are facing, and then communicate our effort.

A double communication effort is required: firstly, we have to reiterate the seriousness of the threat, giving it its full weight while avoiding hysteria; and secondly, we have to put across an idea of the nature of the effort, of the European political project to counteract terrorism.

Reaction is no longer enough

The terrible attacks of 11 September 2001 in New York led to a number of initiatives on the part of the EU, notably the European arrest warrant. Following the tragic attacks of 11 March 2004 in Madrid, an anti-terrorist action plan was put in place.

Today ever firmer action is expected of an EU which has to prove its capacity to act in the area of prevention.

As the most recent attacks (the tragic attacks of Madrid) recede into the background, the political dynamic around the phenomenon is visibly lessening. This is a serious error.

The best form of prevention is to draw up a political project at European level, bringing together the Council, the Commission and Parliament.

This would take the form of a European platform for the exchange of information and data on the phenomenon - emergent and therefore particularly diffuse and unclear - of the activities of radical Islamist groups.

We do not know enough about these groups' forms and rhythms of action. It is therefore now vital to invest in diagnosis and information on the matter.

There is a lack of awareness regarding the terrorist threat, especially in certain Member States which - fortunately for them - have not suffered its consequences. We therefore support the initiatives of the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, for a world awareness campaign on terrorism. At home, the EU must be at the forefront of a campaign to heighten awareness of the seriousness of the issue.

At present, prevention of terrorist acts is a matter for the security forces of the Member States. This will not change during the next decade. Nonetheless, a key role in the fight can be played by Europol and Eurojust.

Both organisations can, in particular, assist by:

A.       deepening the diagnosis of the terrorist organisations that we have to confront;

B.        operating a more dynamic exchange of information between national police forces and Member States' intelligence services.

It has to be reiterated that the more developed the means and European platforms of information exchange are, the more effective they will be.

It is also vital to promote all measures facilitating the exchange of information between the EU and the US.

Information exchange will be boosted if we can identify and define the type of organisations we are fighting, since only in this way can the necessary flow of information be stepped up.

With an emergent phenomenon such as that of the radical Islamist groups appears to be, the key task is to obtain information on their structure and to undertake a preventive diagnosis of their actions. Now more than ever, information's time has come.

In the area of prevention, we should also stress the following priorities:

A.       promote dialogue between public and private sectors on security matters, including representatives of European, national and sectoral associations; develop technological innovation and private-sector involvement in the drawing-up of rules, practices and procedures for improving security for goods and services; devise a security plan for the Union's basic infrastructure; all this calls for dialogue and shared effort;

B.        tighten controls on weapons and explosives.

Parliament fully supports all efforts made in this sense by the Commission at the behest of the Council, and urges the Commission and Council to present suitable proposals based on the need to operate strict controls in this area.

Preparation and response:

Should an attack occur, it is essential to bring into play all measures tending to enhance European solidarity.

A terrorist attack on a Member State should be considered an attack on the entire Union, and the scenario adopted should take this into account.

In this connection, we strongly support the Commission's proposal for the creation of new instrument for readiness and rapid response in the event of a serious crisis, including a terrorist attack.

We do not know why terrorists decide to hit a given country, but we can be certain that they will always operate a divide-and-rule strategy.

They will in all cases encourage the idea that an attack has occurred in a given country because of certain policies of that country, thus giving the rest the impression that they are not directly threatened.

Should this be the case, our response to a terrorist attack should be based on the following three criteria:

A.       it must be, to the greatest extent possible, a joint and united response, with the Union institutions to the fore;

B.        the social mobilisation must, to the greatest extent possible, take place on a joint and united basis: the public must be called upon to respond in all the Member States, not just the Member State in which the tragedy has occurred;

C.       a central role must be played by the victims and their relatives, since the main moral force behind the response will be theirs.

For all these reasons, it is vital that the EU should equip itself with a series of protocols and measures to be applied automatically, so that we can avoid giving the impression of improvising our reactions to events.

In view of the experience of recent events such as those in Madrid on 11 March 2004 or in Australia before the elections, or the appearance of videos of Bin Laden two days before the US presidential elections, the EU and the countries of Europe need to consider what position they should take in similar circumstances.

The EU institutions must consider carefully how they should respond to such an eventuality.

We should counter those who claim that prior analysis of possible initiatives tends to sow alarm and even encourage a terrorist attack with the argument that the greatest social panic will occur if we act on an improvised basis and have to decide our responses and actions as we go along.

Both prevention and response merit specific attention.

1. The victims of terrorism

We support the Commission's view that 11 March, which is the European Day of the Victims of Terrorism in memory of the 192 victims of the 11 March 2004 attack in Madrid, should be treated in future as a day of civic and democratic debate on the means of guaranteeing our freedom

The European office for aid to the victims of terrorism which Parliament asked for in its recommendation A6-0010/2004 should be set up immediately. It would take the form of an administrative unit of the Commission, without massive premises or large numbers of staff: its role would, quite simply, be to provide a point of information and reference at administrative level to inform the victims of terrorism on their rights and on where they can go should they need help, while also providing them with information on the victims' associations which exist in the Member States.

The respect we owe to the victims calls for action on our part to ensure the harmonisation of definitions and penalties for the offence of making threats against people who are victims of terrorism.

2 The media

The response of the media is crucial when an attack takes place.

Centralised government initiatives are not appropriate at the moment of an attack. All one can hope for is that the media will respond in a mature fashion based on solid democratic commitment. The media will be more likely to respond positively and unambiguously if they have shared ideas and participated in meetings with political leaders on the subject of terrorism.

The solution does not lie in centralised government action, or in controls, and certainly not in a gagging law.

If we are to evolve joint criteria on the necessary and primary forms of response to be activated by the media, it is essential to hold meetings and seminars at which politicians and journalists can exchange views on the matter.

A European political project

-          A long catalogue of measures is not a political project.

-          A political project calls for an effort of synthesis and a definition of priorities and directions.

-          Today, a political project for responding to the emergent problem of radical Islamist groups has to place the main stress on information.

-          What is involved is diagnosis, evidence and improved knowledge.

-          The European Parliament must have a role to play in this European political project.

The role of the European Parliament

Parliament cannot confine itself to merely making recommendations to the Council and Commission.

The EP is the institution that is closest to and most representative of the citizens of Europe. Its members are directly elected by them and are obliged to maintain especially close links with them. Like any parliament, the EP has the duty of forming public opinion - in this case, European public opinion, that is, a common opinion shared by all the European societies concerned.

The first task is to make the public aware of the seriousness of the threat.

Parliament's role is not to adopt technical measures of measures in the policing sphere, but to concentrate on the strictly political sphere, beginning with awareness-raising.

It is also one of Parliament's tasks to develop its own role as a forum for dialogue with society - a meeting space for the debate on the problem which is not confined to MEPs alone. The EP's main responsibility is to bring about the reflection in public opinion of the work and efforts of both MEPs themselves and the EU institutions.

Parliament is the forum par excellence for dialogue in the following contexts:

A.-      awareness of the Council's and Commission's initiatives;

B.-      exchange of views with the social agents concerned and with representatives of the media.

PROPOSAL FOR A RECOMMENDATION B6-0081/2005 (21.1.2005)

pursuant to Rule 114(1) of the Rules of Procedure

by Alexander Nuno Alvaro, on behalf of the ALDE Group

on an EU integrated approach to preventing, preparing for and responding to all types of terrorist attacks and dealing with their consequences

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Declaration on the fight against terrorism, adopted at the European Council meeting of 24 and 25 March 2004,

–   having regard to the European Union's revised Action Plan against Terrorism, adopted at the European Council meeting of 17 and 18 June 2004,

–   having regard to the set of measures for the prevention and combating of terrorism provided for in the Hague Programme, which was adopted at the European Council meeting of 4 and 5 November 2004, supplemented by the Presidency conclusions of the European Council meeting of 16 and 17 December 2004, in particular those concerning terrorism,

–   having regard to Rule 114(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the measures listed in the Hague Programme which relate to the fight against terrorism should be implemented rapidly in order to strengthen freedom, security and justice in the EU,

B.  whereas, in order to effectively prevent and combat terrorist attacks while respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, Member states should not confine their activities to maintaining their own security, but should also focus such activities on the security of the EU as a whole,

C. whereas it has become clear that, in order to combat the ongoing terrorist threat, one of the essential elements of EU policy must be to improve loyal cooperation between the EU institutions,

D. whereas it is important to seize this opportunity to encourage the strengthening and development of EU capacities as regards prevention, preparation for and response to terrorist attacks,

1.  Addresses the following recommendations to the Council:

a)  to combat the terrorist threat by stepping up cooperation both internally and at international level,

b)  to implement as soon as possible the measures listed in the Hague Programme, entitled 'Strengthening Freedom, Security and Justice in the European Union', in particular those relevant to the fight against terrorism, with due respect for fundamental rights,

c)  to demand that the Member States pool their intelligence and security data not only to prepare for threats to their own security but also, where necessary, to protect the internal security of the other Member States,

d)  to adopt as soon as possible all the necessary measures to establish an EU-wide coherent and effective framework both to prevent all types of terrorist attacks and to deal with their consequences, including measures to guarantee unfailing cooperation between security forces and bodies and external cooperation services, with a view to ensuring democratic control and protection of fundamental rights,

e)  to ensure adequate protection and assistance for victims of terrorism and their families by allocating the necessary appropriations to the European Union's annual budget;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this recommendation to the Council and, for information, to the European Council and the Commission.



Proposal for a recommendation from the European Parliament to the Council on terrorist attacks: prevention, preparation and response

Procedure number


Proposal(s) for recommendation(s) considered




Basis in Rules of Procedure

Art. 114(3) and Art. 94

Committee responsible

  Date announced in plenary



Date of decision to draw up report


Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)
  Date announced in plenary






Not delivering opinion(s)
  Date of decision






Enhanced cooperation
  Date announced in plenary

Other proposal(s) for recommendation(s) included in report




  Date appointed

Jaime Mayor Oreja


Previous rapporteur(s)



Discussed in committee






Date adopted


Result of final vote







Members present for the final vote

Edit Bauer, Mihael Brejc, Giusto Catania, Michael Cashman,Charlotte Cederschiöld, Carlos Coelho, Fausto Correia, Agustín Díaz de Mera García Consuegra, Rosa Díez González, Antoine Duquesne, Kinga Gál, Lívia Járóka, Magda Kósáné Kovács, Wolfgang Kreissl-Dörfler, Barbara Kudrycka, Henrik Lax, Edith Mastenbroek, Jaime Mayor Oreja, Claude Moraes, Martine Roure, Inger Segelström, Ioannis Varvitsiotis, Stefano Zappalà, Tatjana Ždanoka

Substitutes present for the final vote

Frederika Brepoels, Gérard Deprez, Ignasi Guardans Cambó, Luis Francisco Herrero-Tejedor, Carlos José Iturgaiz Angulo, Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Jean Lambert, Mary Lou McDonald, Antonio Masip Hidalgo, Javier Moreno Sánchez, Bill Newton Dunn, Cem Özdemir, Siiri Oviir, Marie-Line Reynaud, Antonio Tajani

Substitutes under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

María del Pilar Ayuso González, Cristina Gutiérrez-Cortines, María Esther Herranz García, Antonio López-Istúriz White, Antolín Sánchez Presedo.

Date tabled – A[5]






Number B[5]


Committee responsible

Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)

Date announced in plenary



Alexander Nuno Alvaro en nombre del Grupo ALDE

on an EU integrated approach to preventing, preparing for and responding to all types of terrorist attacks and dealing with their consequences