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Debates
Tuesday, 7 June 2005 - Strasbourg OJ edition

5. Fight against terrorism
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  President. – The next item is the debate on the report by Mrs Rosa Díez González, on behalf of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, on the EU anti-terrorism Action Plan (2004/2214(INI)) (A6-0164/2005),

the report by Mr Jaime Mayor Oreja, on behalf of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, on terrorist attacks: prevention, preparation and response (2005/2043(INI)) (A6-0166/2005),

the report by Mr Stavros Lambrinidis, on behalf of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, on the protection of critical infrastructures in the framework of the fight against terrorism (2005/2044(INI)) (A6-0161/2005),

the report by Mr Mario Borghezio, on behalf of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, on combating the financing of terrorism (2005/2065(INI)) (A6-0159/2005),

the reports by Mr Antoine Duquesne, on behalf of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, on the exchange of information as regards serious offences, including terrorist acts (10215/2004 – C6-0153/2004 – 2004/0812(CNS)) (A6-0162/2005),

the exchange of information and cooperation concerning terrorist offences (decision) (15599/2004 – C6-0007/2004 – 2004/0069(CNS)) (A6-0160/2005)

and the exchange of information and cooperation concerning terrorist offences (2005/2046(INI)) (A6-0165/2005),

the report by Mr Alexander Nuno Alvaro, on behalf of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, on the prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of crime and criminal offences including terrorism (8958/2004 – C6-0198/2004 – 2004/0813(CNS))(A6-0174/2005)

and of the oral questions by Mr Karl-Heinz Florenz to the Council and the Commission on European Union capabilities to respond to public health threats posed by bioterrorism (B6-0243/2005 and B6-0244/2005).

 
  
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  Rosa Díez González (PSE), rapporteur. (ES) Mr President, today is an important day. This global debate once again places the European Parliament at the forefront of the fight against terrorism. We are a political House and this is a political debate on the measures to be taken by Europe to defend human rights and beat terrorism, and it is a debate that is also intended to provide lessons in democracy.

We are convinced that, in order to be effective in the fight against terrorism, Europe must have a common policy in this area as well, in order to go beyond the increasingly close and effective cooperation amongst the countries of the Union – of which Spain and France are a good example – and between the Union and third countries; a policy that responds to the concerns of the citizens and that can be promoted as a model throughout the world.

Beating terrorism requires, firstly, a belief in the supremacy of democracy. Beating terrorism requires that we be prepared to use all the instruments of the rule of law, all of them, but no more than those that the rule of law allows us. Beating terrorism requires that we combat impunity and deprive terrorist action of any legitimacy. Beating terrorism requires that we keep the memory of its victims alive in our hearts.

Terrorism, ladies and gentlemen, is a form of totalitarianism, of fanaticism. Terrorism seeks to destroy free and plural societies. Terrorism is incompatible with democracy. I would therefore state that only a strong, vigorous and committed democracy will be able to beat it.

This House has been at the forefront in this field on more than one occasion. On 6 September 2001, just days before the attack on the Twin Towers, two recommendations were adopted here: the arrest warrant and the common definition of the crime of terrorism, which were able to be adopted by the Council in December of that same year thanks to the fact that we, the European Parliament, had done our work on time. It is true that there are some countries of the Union that have yet to transpose them into their legislation and there are others that have not done so adequately. The report for which I am rapporteur therefore calls for an urgent evaluation, but these two decisions are an example of the extent to which the European citizens need a Parliament that is able to be at the forefront of political decisions.

Europe is a model of democracy and respect for human rights. That is our vocation, that is the purpose of our political union. We therefore combat terrorism in order to defend and promote democracy and in order to guarantee respect for human rights, because we know that terrorism is the enemy of democracy. We therefore propose a European policy to combat terrorism in order to guarantee respect for collective and individual human rights, the right to life, freedom of expression, freedom of movement, ideological freedom and religious freedom: a European policy that combats terrorism in order to make collective security compatible with individual freedom and dignity.

I am not going to bore you with the details of every recommendation in the report. They are all pioneering, but they are all possible. They only require political will and they are all necessary. They range from enhancing the role of the European anti-terrorism coordinator to promoting the creation of the post of European public prosecutor.

I would like to highlight the recommendation that we institutionalise a European recognition of the victims of terrorism. Also politically significant is our commitment to promote an international definition of the crime of terrorism, something which is increasingly necessary if we want, as proposed by Kofi Annan in the Madrid Agenda, these crimes to be pursued and punished throughout the world.

I would finally like to draw attention to a truly ambitious recommendation: the request that the Member States not allow terrorist crimes to be time-barred, thereby reflecting the reprobation of the international community, which considers them to be some of the most serious and inadmissible crimes against humanity.

I will end, ladies and gentlemen, by saying that I know that this is a small step that we are taking today, but it is an important step. And I am proud of having contributed to placing the European Parliament once again at the forefront of the fight against the impunity of criminals and at the forefront of the defence of human rights. I would like to thank all of my fellow Members, and all of the political groups, for their contributions to this long debate. Thanks to all of them, this House is going to propose proactive initiatives to the Council that will change the dynamic of the past. This series of initiatives is aimed at drawing up a European policy that is capable of preventing terrorism as far as possible.

As a Socialist, as a Basque, as a Spaniard and as a European, I am proud that this Parliament is once again acknowledging the memory of the victims of terrorism.

The President of the Spanish Government, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, reiterated his commitment last Saturday at a Civil Guard diploma ceremony, where he stated that all of the victims will remain in our memories forever. For every democrat, that commitment, to remember the victims, must make societies such as the ones which the terrorists pursue through their crimes impossible.

Europe knows about totalitarianism and it knows about the importance of keeping memories alive in order to prevent history from being repeated. Primo Levi explained it very well in a magnificent book: ‘To understand is impossible, but to know is necessary and to remember is a duty’.

 
  
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  President. I should like to welcome our former colleague, Mr De Vries, who is following the debate from the Council benches.

 
  
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  Jaime Mayor Oreja (PPE-DE), rapporteur. (ES) Mr President, I would like firstly to thank Commissioner Frattini and the Council’s coordinator of the fight against terrorism, Mr Gijs de Vries, for being here this morning. I would also like to thank all the MEPs who have worked and cooperated, sometimes on the basis of discrepancies and sometimes on the basis of agreement, on this report on the prevention of and response to terrorist attacks and I would like in particular to thank my good friends Rosa Díez and Antoine Duquesne for their cooperation and their contributions to this report.

In the few minutes available to me I would like to be very concise and in particular to summarise the reasons and objectives that have inspired me to present this report in the European Parliament today. What have I wanted to contribute today in this House by means of this report? Simply the little I have been able to learn, my limited and modest experience of what fighting a terrorist organisation has meant, for more than twenty-five years, in my country, Spain, and in the Basque Country.

I therefore believe that the most important thing today is to turn the European Union's traditional approach to combating terrorism, which has usually been by means of an exhaustive list of measures, into what I believe must be a European political project.

You may ask me what the difference is between an exhaustive list of measures and a political project. A political project is much more ambitious than a list of measures. A political project is always the result of a priority, of an emphasis and, above all, of an appropriate and correct mindset. And a political project, above all, has the capacity to be summed up and understood simultaneously by a public opinion that appreciates the efforts of a politician to turn that list of measures into a political project.

Allow me to point out that the recent results in Europe confirm to us that we need a limited number of political projects, because there cannot be infinite political projects. We must have just a few political projects, which are understood by the European citizens and able to tackle their problems. And I believe that one of them is unquestionably terrorism.

Terrorism cannot be fought in a generalised fashion. The security forces cannot take on the correct mindset if we are fighting terrorism in a generalised fashion. We must combat a particular type of terrorism, a particular organisation. It is true that it must always be fought on the basis of the same principles of freedom, of respect for human rights, of the ideas upon which Europe is based, but in each case we must be able to create a particular concrete political project, and we must always be able to specify, determine and measure the organisation being fought; amongst other reasons, as I said before, because that is the only way to stimulate the security forces to put every possible effort into combating a particular organisation.

What is a terrorist organisation’s main ally? Its dispersed nature: we never know where it begins and ends; we do not know what social structure sustains it nor which States, on occasions, are behind that group. But it always has social support, and one of the keys to combating the phenomenon of terrorism is to be aware of the range of the organisation and of the social strata supporting it.

For this reason – and I regret certain amendments to this effect - I regret that we have not had the courage to call the organisation that the Europeans are faced with, which is a radical, Islamist organisation, or one that claims to defend Islam, that is to say Al Qaeda, by its name. It is essential to call it by its name, because that is the only way to combat an organisation: we must be able to say what we are currently facing in the European Union.

The main risk facing the European Parliament is paralysis, inaction, being sure of our principles and values and being in general agreement, but not creating a common European political project to deal with this great issue that is going to affect our present and our future, and treating it as if it were somebody else’s problem: as if it were something that happened to the Americans on 11 September, a few years ago, or specifically to Spain, for particular reasons, on 11 March, but I do not believe that that is what we should do.

In conclusion, I would like to remember the victims and say that they must always be at the centre of our debate, the main focus of our attention, I would repeat that, on this issue, we must all have the moral strength together with them fundamentally to tackle this issue which is essential in terms of our future.

 
  
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  Stavros Lambrinidis (PSE), rapporteur. – (EL) Mr President, Commissioner, in the fight against terrorism, fear is the worst enemy and advocate. It paralyses the population and affects its sense of security and that is how terrorists win. It also reduces the resistance of the population and causes governments anxiety about suppressive measures, which often infringe fundamental freedoms. Here again terrorists win. The best way, therefore, to limit this fear is for us to be ready, as Europe, both to prevent terrorist attacks and their repercussions and – if a terrorist attack ultimately occurs – to be ready to deal with the repercussions of the attack in the best possible way, in other words by mitigating them both for the population as a whole and for the victims.

Why should we do this together, rather than each of us separately?

Firstly, because terrorism has no borders and our critical infrastructures often have no borders now either. We cannot each deal with an issue which has pan-European repercussions alone.

Secondly, because we have committed to this Europe, not only through economic ties, but also through ties of solidarity. In the case of terrorism in particular, we declared in the new European Constitution on 25 March 2004 that we clearly need to operate together. But what should we do together? In prevention and in the protection of critical infrastructures, I would say to you that it is extremely important for there to be a Commission proposal approved by Parliament for a programme to protect critical infrastructures. The Member States, in cooperation with the infrastructure operators, who are mostly private operators, must each define these critical infrastructures using a harmonised European method. We need to analyse their sensitivity and assess the threats, which means that we need to exchange information on these systems. For example, my country might have information about a possible threat to another country. We need to find solutions for their protection, as well as for an adequate reaction if an attack takes place. At the same time, we need to safeguard confidentiality, so that the owners of these infrastructures can exchange information in advance. In other words, they must be able to warn each other about possible attacks. We need to safeguard financing. We need to safeguard, above all, the protection of fundamental freedoms in this process. The ends do not justify the means. We need to safeguard a recognisable and achievable timetable and independent monitoring by Europe as regards support for this timetable for prescribing infrastructures. We cannot simply shell out money with no timetable.

What can we do for the purpose of crisis management? We need here to create a European civil protection force and safeguard European financing for its movements. This is the biggest cost. You can have a database so that you can coordinate throughout Europe – if a disaster strikes one country, which other countries will help and with what forces – but it costs money. We must have cooperation with non-governmental organisations and local authorities. They are all involved in the event of a disaster, be it a terrorist attack or a natural disaster. All the early-warning systems must be unified in ARGUS. There must be a crisis management, coordination and monitoring and information processing centre in Europe.

We also need, as Europe, to consult the national authorities with experience. I mention this because, with the Olympic Games in Greece in 2004, we organised what was probably the biggest civil protection and infrastructure protection operation in the history of the entire world. The European Commission cannot organise such a large-scale programme without consulting authorities such as these.

What should we not do together? We do not want green, red or orange alerts to the world. We cannot create a climate of panic. In creating a climate of panic, we have created what the terrorists want: the fear I mentioned at the beginning. Nor do we want preventive wars against terrorism. They are either wars against nation states or they are wars against fundamental rights. There is a huge temptation at the moment, in numerous countries around the world, to restrict fundamental rights, allegedly so that we can combat terrorism. Nor do we want to address terrorism solely as a police matter. That is not and should not be the way we combat it. Nor do we want specific terrorists to be demonised, because that way we turn them into heroes, or the victims to be ignored. We have to remember these people. Terrorists want the opposite; they want us to ignore them.

Thank you for listening and thank you to all my honourable friends for adopting this report unanimously in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. I hope that we shall achieve a great deal together in the future.

 
  
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  Mario Borghezio (IND/DEM), rapporteur. (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the measures listed in the Hague Programme, primarily concerning money laundering, the funding of terrorism and exchanges of information among the Member States, must be carried out quickly and effectively. That is one of the aims proposed in my report. Such an objective must be fulfilled while observing the privacy of personal data – a point on which many Members have insisted during the debate – with a view to strengthening freedom, security and justice in the European Union, which are severely threatened by international terrorism.

Terrorism is funded primarily through the traffic in arms and drugs, and it is clear that transactions made by such groups controlling trafficking of this kind involve official banking and financial institutions. Measures for preventing and countering the funding of terrorism, therefore, must centre on these institutions. From this standpoint, we warmly welcome the commitment made on behalf of the Commission by Mr Frattini – whom we thank for his report – for the immediate presentation to the European Parliament of a proposal for a regulation on the traceability of financial transactions. We believe that this initiative, for which we acknowledge the Commission, is practical, speedy and effective.

There is another equally substantial issue, moreover, of judicial cooperation. How is it possible for an individual judge – and in Italy there are many of them engaged intensely and effectively in the fight against terrorism – to act without adequate instruments of cooperation and exchange of information? That is a problem that still needs to be resolved.

I do not intend to underestimate the concerns voiced by many Members about the issue of personal data protection, but one requirement must take priority: to crush the terrorist headquarters that threaten citizens. It is necessary to reflect carefully, therefore, on the need for cooperation in the exchange of information and on the requirement for an instrument that will allow us to stop terrorism in real time, by means of effective measures and intervention, in order to prevent crocodile tears from being shed at a later date for the hundreds of dead victims of the attacks, or, worse still, of biological terror attacks.

It is obvious that the organisation and operational development of terrorist networks entails constantly evolving methods and techniques, which also include infiltrations. From this standpoint, and whilst having the highest regard for the work and the selflessness of not-for-profit organisations, I felt it necessary to stress the real danger of not-for-profit charitable organisations being infiltrated by terrorist groups, as many investigations have already documented. These organisations must ensure maximum transparency in managing their funds, must exclusively use official bank accounts and standard financial channels, and must publish their budget plans – this also protects the not-for-profit sector, which is a source of pride for European civil society.

Let us not forget, moreover, the implementation of the FATF (Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering) recommendations, which take on great importance in devising new rules for bank transfers. These rules are an absolute prerequisite in enabling us to single out the source and recipients of the transfers, who must not take cover behind ghost companies. I would like to conclude by recalling the still entirely unresolved issue of financial and tax havens, both inside and outside the European Union, which even today can offer a veil of protection to the international terrorist organisations that threaten the peace and security of European citizens.

 
  
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  Antoine Duquesne (ALDE), rapporteur. – (FR) Mr President, terrorism is an amorphous and multifaceted phenomenon which has hit Europe hard and which, unfortunately, will continue to pose a major threat to our democracies if we fail to reach a wide-ranging consensus in order to fight it, if there is not a firm commitment to cooperation between us and if we do not adopt an overarching strategy to eradicate it.

It is not enough to react, we need to anticipate and be ahead of the game. Above all, terrorism must be unanimously condemned at a political level, and in order to do that, Europe must equip itself with effective means to do so.

I am therefore delighted with the five reports that we are to vote upon today, as each of them sets out very specific actions against this blight on our world, and I feel reassured by the conviction that I share with Mrs Diéz González, Mr Mayor Oreja, Mr Lambridinis and Mr Borghezio. I hope that these reports will be adopted, if not unanimously - which would be ideal - then at least by a very substantial majority.

Exchanges of information have a key part to play in preventing the menace of terrorism and in effectively combating major crime. However, if such exchanges of information are to be truly effective, we must, as a matter of urgency, impose some order and coherence on the controls already in force and check, by means of a thorough assessment, that they offer real added value. We must avoid sacrificing security on the altar of efficiency, while at the same time not letting efficiency be undermined by bland platitudes.

Let there be no mistake about this: when it comes to the war on terror, we have nothing to fear from waging that war democratically and with determination while respecting the law. The danger lies in not reacting at all. To that extent, I believe that the proposal for a Council decision is helpful, because it strengthens vertical cooperation by involving Europol and Eurojust, and provides for analysis. The Swedish proposal is helpful because it provides for swift bilateral exchanges as part of horizontal cooperation between the services in the Member States. To my mind, these proposals complement one another.

The amendments adopted in committee serve to make these measures more effective, in particular by providing for information to be available on previous convictions, by facilitating spontaneous exchanges of useful information, by setting deadlines for the exchange of information, by providing for an obligation to justify any refusal to supply information, by providing for an annual report to be presented to Parliament and by giving the Court of Justice the power of interpretation. Furthermore, we are proposing for the first time that there should be a coherent set of controls that establishes common standards of data protection under the third pillar equivalent to those under the first pillar, in particular by creating a new joint supervisory body. In this way it will finally be possible to convey to the police in very simple and specific terms, possibly by means of a code, what amounts to good practice. This will allow objections which are very often used to justify inaction to be set aside.

Although we are simply being asked for our opinion, we are taking the initiative by formulating precise proposals. If the vote is largely in favour, as was the case in committee, it will be impossible for the Council and the Commission to turn a deaf ear and to ignore proposals that I believe to be well balanced. We have a very important political role to play here, and I am convinced that Mr Frattini and Mr de Vries will heed what we say and convey our views.

We also need to react as a matter of urgency to other vitally important dossiers, such as the European register of convictions and the fight against the financing of terrorism, because terrorism is dependent upon money. Hence the vital importance of regulations to prevent money laundering and identify the holders of bank accounts financing major crime.

Ladies and gentlemen, as I have said, terrorism has many facets. The most important threat we face today is the violence committed by the amorphous terrorist groupings that wrongly claim the right to invoke Islam. There are also other threats, however. In waging the war on terror, we must make sure to identify our various targets properly. We need to be aware of the links between terrorism and major crime. We also need to set up an early warning system by strengthening cooperation between information services and by providing better protection for locations most at risk.

There is also a great deal to be done as regards prevention. We must not let ourselves be fooled by the excuses that terrorists use to justify the unjustifiable. Nevertheless they do relate to problems that often genuinely exist and need to be addressed and that represent a breeding ground for people driven to despair and therefore susceptible to terrorist lunacy. Prevention also involves educating people to the danger of certain statements, and requires us to convey the importance of democracy as regards tolerant debate and respect for the opinions of others.

We must also have the capacity to react appropriately when the worst happens. In such cases, solidarity must be the order of the day: specific political solidarity that marshals all our resources and energy both to provide assistance and to crack down on such acts.

We need to think still more about the victims of terrorism. They need to be involved in the process not only so that we might respond to their concerns but also so that we might demonstrate to them that efforts are being made to ensure that such disasters never happen again.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, our greatest weapon in the face of barbaric acts is our passionate commitment to freedom and democracy, underpinned by human rights. Once again, if we are proactive and unanimous we can defeat those whose dream is to destroy the ideals at the heart of Europe.

 
  
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  Alexander Nuno Alvaro (ALDE), rapporteur. (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, Mr de Vries, ladies and gentlemen, Mr Duquesne has already given a detailed explanation of the need for action to curb, combat and prevent terrorism in Europe and throughout the world.

In the context of the reports on the table, and particularly the one for which I am responsible, the report on the retention of data, I should like to remind the House of what the European Court of Justice has said with regard to the war on terrorism, namely that governments must constantly consider whether all the resources they deploy and all the measures they enact, however legitimate they may be, are not actually endangering what they are intended to protect. In some cases, this may be the existence of a free society; in others it may be the right of personal privacy.

I heartily agree with the shadow rapporteurs, and I should like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to them, that we are not fundamentally opposed to the proposals made by the governments of the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Sweden. We would certainly insist, however, that measures involving significant curtailments of fundamental rights, which – as all law students learn in the first term at every European university – must always be properly justified, are based on a needs assessment which endorses the measures in question. This assessment should not be confined to identifying the need for action but should also outline the benefits of retaining, as a matter of course, data from public telecommunications networks – the Internet, landlines, mobile phones and SMS – which could relate to any of 450 million people.

The main problem I should like to re-examine in this context is that of the procedural method. I am grateful for the communication we have received. With the best will in the world, however, I have to say that the procedure leaves a great deal of scope for improvement. The report on which you will vote today is based on a draft dating from April of last year. In the meantime, the Council’s proposal has undergone several amendments. The most recent proposal dates from 24 May. Since then the Commission has taken the initiative to introduce its own proposals. Since Parliament is not up to date on these, not having been involved in the latest discussions to the extent of receiving a new document through official channels, we can scarcely be expected to express unbounded enthusiasm about the cooperation of the other institutions in this matter. Perhaps some thought should be given to ways of improving interinstitutional cooperation if we want to succeed in combating terrorism.

To deal briefly with the report itself, in the old version – and similar problems may well exist in the new version too – we identified technical defects with regard to the means of enforcement. It is a matter of creating databases designed to store as much data as it is possible and necessary to retain; it is a matter of ascertaining how easily ways can be found to circumvent the provisions contained in the present proposal and how easy or difficult it may and must be for the relevant industry to effect the requisite structural changes – and this is the economic crux of the matter – without the need for compensation. Perhaps some of the new proposals set out different rules on this last point, but there was certainly no provision for compensation in the version on which we had to base our deliberations.

The other question we had to examine was a legal one: to what extent is the proposed system compatible with the right to respect for private and family life as defined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights? To what extent is it compatible with the fundamental rights enshrined in our national constitutions, such as the right to determine the disclosure and use of one’s own personal data, as in Germany, and the right of telephone privacy, which presumably exists in every Member State, to store the data of all European citizens? In which country will the framework decision first be declared unconstitutional, if it is adopted at all?

Another aspect is the political message conveyed in the justification of the first document, which states that the system should be deliberately designed to include those who have never come under suspicion so that it can achieve the goal of combating terrorism and organised crime as comprehensively and efficiently as possible. Perhaps an alternative solution could be sought among the other available options. We have the Convention on Cybercrime, which proposes ways of striking a reasonable balance between the storage and protection of data, such as the use of a data freeze or a system of data preservation. This Convention proposes several solutions that have not yet been implemented in a single country. At this point one begins to wonder whether the desire to take rapid action did not triumph over rational reflection in this case, particularly in view of the fact that the Council received its mandate on 25 March of last year, exactly two weeks after the dreadful atrocities in Madrid.

I hope that the message we are sending out from here will be properly interpreted. We are willing to cooperate, but we also want the right procedure to be chosen. As the report shows, we believe, and the legal services believe, that this matter should be part of the first pillar of the EU Treaty, in other words one of the areas in which our Parliament engages in joint decision-making and is not merely consulted. Perhaps that can be taken on board, and perhaps we shall then be accorded the same level of respect that we give the other institutions in the course of our work.

 
  
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  Karl-Heinz Florenz (PPE-DE), author. (DE) Mr President, Mr President of the Commission, in the context of this debate, I should be very interested to learn how sharply the European Union in general and the Council in particular are focusing on the issue of bioterrorism. I have no doubt that a good foreign policy which functions properly is the best preventive mechanism. This, unfortunately, has not been fully understood by part of the European electorate in recent weeks, and some of the responsibility for that surely lies with us.

Be that as it may, we cannot close our eyes to the fact that we are liable to be confronted with the problem of bioterrorism. We hope it will not come to that, but I should like to know from the Commission and the Council how they are preparing for such an eventuality. I should also like to know how these preparations have progressed over the past year and over the last few months since the appointment of a common European coordinator. If the rumours are true – and I hope they are not – that cooperation has been dreadful in the entire area around my country, I should like to know what steps the Commission and the Council are taking to tackle this issue resolutely. There is no doubt that this is a European mission and that the European dimension brings added value. I keenly await the Commission’s comments.

 
  
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  Franco Frattini, Vice-President of the Commission. (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I will address all at the same time the many sensitive issues raised by the rapporteurs, to whom I have listened with great attention and whom I sincerely thank for having drawn attention to matters of exceptional interest for the democratic life of Europe.

I believe that terrorism is genuinely the new tyranny of the 21st century, a tyranny which seeks to limit our freedoms and to attack people’s fundamental rights – the right to life and physical safety – and I therefore agree with your approach. A response is needed that involves European intervention and strong international cooperation. It is not a case of an emergency response: we must regard terrorism as a permanent threat, which therefore requires a strategy and, as many have said, concrete action, above all.

Only last Friday in Luxembourg, the Council, on this basis, endorsed the action plan proposed by the Commission, which contains some new, and in my opinion, effective proposals. These will be implemented as early as in the next few months and will add to the measures already in place. As Mr Mayor Oreja correctly stated, we are dealing with aspects of a single strategy, not a list of measures. It will be a question of a political plan on which Parliament, the Council and the Commission obviously must and can work together.

I believe that one of the fundamental principles resides in the fact that the fight against terrorism does not mean restricting people’s freedoms; quite the opposite! The greatest political mistake would be if people’s fundamental freedoms were also to fall victim to terrorism, in the sense of being sacrificed, or, even, wiped out. The balance between preventative action and repression, on the one hand, and the safeguarding of fundamental rights and freedoms, on the other, is therefore the focus of all of the reports.

If I may now make some brief observations on the reports presented. Mrs Díez González is certainly right in stressing the importance of an available action plan, allowing us in particular to monitor the actions of the Member States in implementing the measures decided upon. It would be truly paradoxical if, after having identified a strategy, there was not a mechanism for overseeing the implementation of the measures outlined in the strategy itself. The action plan and its implementation will therefore be a priority for the Commission. As many of you are already aware, one of the main elements of the action plan approved on Friday in Luxembourg was precisely the creation of a permanent monitoring instrument.

The Commission proposes to issue a report periodically – on a six-monthly basis, I believe. It will, of course, be made public and will concern the methods and the quality of implementation of all of the measures by the Member States. For instance, with regard to certain points outlined in Mrs Díez González’s report, we are working on a communication on explosives, detonators and firearms, and on a second communication that concerns the radicalisation and recruitment of terrorists. In addition to these measures, we will clearly and promptly put forward a number of proposals on the issue of the funding of terrorism – I will return to this issue – with particular reference to certain organisations that assist and support terrorism. We will obviously work towards the implementation of the ARGUS system, with which many of you will be familiar. I am certain that this system will allow us to create a network of all of the existing rapid response systems within the Commission. The aim is to create a European network that will enable the immediate exchange of information – I would say in real time – between all of the Member States in the event of a terrorist attack.

Mr Mayor Oreja’s report very rightly stresses the importance of strengthening information exchange, cooperation with third countries, dialogue with civil society – which is a fundamental aspect – and assistance and support to the victims of terrorism, which is another aspect on which the Commission will work intensely. I believe that this period of work, which Parliament has begun today with the presentation of the reports, will increasingly have to take into account the victims of terrorism, as well as the perpetrators of terrorist acts, of course.

I believe that the key to the success of this strategy lies in the principle of inclusiveness: all of the actors in society, both public and private, must be able to participate in the democratic debate on terrorism. I believe that providing the public with appropriate information, which is neither threatening nor exaggerated, but is in contrast clear, can be a reassuring response. If we tell the citizens that there exist practical measures and that together we are fine-tuning them, I believe that the citizens can feel reassured by the fact that the great institutions of Europe are working, and will continue to work, proactively.

With regard to the protection of critical infrastructures, I greatly welcomed the report by Mr Lambrinidis. Without doubt, one of the principal terrorist threats affects infrastructures, and it is precisely within this sector that cooperation is essential between public institutions, every level of government and the private sector. By the end of the year, the Commission aims to present to Parliament a proposal for a European programme for critical infrastructure protection. One of the items in the programme relates to the possibility of providing access to immediate and well-timed information – a kind of early warning – in the event of the danger of a terrorist attack.

I can tell you that an important seminar is taking place in Brussels on this issue as we speak, with 150 representatives of the 25 Member States in attendance. This meeting provides a positive response: there is broad consensus on the principle elements of this future programme. We will organise a second European public seminar in September in order to then be able to present a tangible programme by the end of the year. In this context, we will have a sum of EUR 1.5 million available for studies relating to best practice in the exchange of information among Member States on the security standards for critical infrastructures. Each Member State must obviously invest in the structures in place on its own territory.

With regard to the funding of terrorism, which is the subject addressed in Mr Borghezio’s report, I am in agreement with the main points outlined in the report. With reference to the not-for-profit sector, the Commission is working on a kind of European code of conduct with a view to tackling the vulnerability of the sector, which, in certain instances – as has been discovered – directly or indirectly supported terrorist organisations. In order to do so, however, we call for large-scale cooperation from the not-for-profit sector itself and from civil society, which is, like us, keen to root out all those who assist terrorist activity in any way. In addition, we certainly have in mind a better exchange of information among national authorities with regard to the funding of terrorism. We are assessing this issue, and a communication is being prepared by the Commission.

There is a further, extremely sensitive issue: the traceability of financial transactions. It is obvious that, in the absence of the necessary instruments for investigating the trail of financial transactions, we are deprived of an effective instrument for clamping down on terrorist funding. With regard to this issue, we therefore aim by this summer to propose to Parliament and the Council a draft regulation on information and the instruments that will be used in tracing financial transactions.

Then there are the three reports by Mr Duquesne, which touch on a subject which is particularly close to my heart: the link between action against terrorism and personal data protection. I believe that the amendments tabled with a view to supplementing and improving the Swedish proposal must be upheld. They are amendments that take account of the important conference held a few days ago in Poland, and which highlight the importance of every person’s right to personal data protection, even when we are confronted by terrorism. That means establishing a balance: no one can envisage abandoning the prevention of, and fight against, terrorism, but individuals’ fundamental rights must be preserved.

I agree with Mr Duquesne’s thoughts on the role of Europol and Eurojust. It is important to allow these bodies access to a wide spectrum of information, so that they may effectively carry out the exchange and coordination work which is the role of Europol, as is evident from the organisation’s new remit, received a few days ago by its new director.

The principal of respect for fundamental rights is a subject addressed by Mr Alvaro, and it is a subject on which I myself have spoken many times. The principle of personal data protection must respond to real needs. Personal data cannot be safeguarded if the safeguard does not correspond to established objectives and for a specific period of time, and neither can permission be granted to access those data except to the competent police and investigation authorities that have a right to access them by law. We are preparing a provision in this respect, founded on a legal basis which, in my opinion, is more appropriate than the existing one, and which I outlined on Friday to the Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers. I shall be presenting the actual text by the end of this summer.

The final subject that I would like to address quickly is bioterrorism. The rapporteur is aware that the Commission has some powers, but not all. It can take charge of food safety, the trade in medicinal products, coordination between the Member States, civil protection and the funding of research. That is no small thing. It is the responsibility of the Member States, however, to adopt practical measures for effective preventative action and potential reactive action in the event of a terrorist attack. You are aware that, following the 2005 bioterrorist attack using traces of anthrax, a high level committee for public health safety was set up with an effective programme of cooperation for prevention and rapid response. The cooperation in progress is working and we are able to tell you that there is a system that can provide a rapid alert in the event of a biological, chemical or radiological attack, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many steps taken by the Commission will improve the level of preparedness and prevention: we are developing simulation exercises in case of potential bioterrorist attacks, two of which will be performed this year to provide a practical assessment of the standard of prevention and rapid response.

We are drawing up guidelines, moreover, for managing medical diagnoses in the event of agents being spread by bioterrorists; we are preparing training courses in collaboration with Europol, and we are supporting national emergency plans that aim to make available an adequate number of vaccines and emergency assistance. As you are aware, Mr Kyprianou unveiled an important European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control barely a week ago. We will continue to encourage the Member States on these issues.

There are two final and practical proposals that I would like to point out. Firstly, the drafting of a new European programme on health and consumer protection, under which we aim to increase the level of funding allocated to prevention and rapid response in the event of public health emergencies. We have also proposed the reimbursement of costs for public health emergencies under the Solidarity Fund, up to a sum of EUR 1 billion. Secondly – and this is my final point - I will mention an important initiative that we have identified as a framework programme. It is a programme, planned and approved for the next Community budget, which is focused on preparedness and prevention relating to security. Obviously, this will include funds to be allocated in the event of potential bioterrorist attacks.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Jaime Mayor Oreja (PPE-DE), draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. (ES) Mr President, in this very brief speech, I would like to stress the importance of the exchange of information for combating the kind of terrorism we are discussing.

This is why Mr Duquesne’s report is so appropriate, since it places the emphasis on this extremely important issue. We must have the courage to call the organisation we are fighting by its name and there is no question that we are facing a series of fundamentalist groups which do not represent Islam, but which claim to operate in the name of Islam.

That is why I believe information to be so important, because it is an emerging phenomenon that we have practically no knowledge of, and in the case of this type of phenomenon, information is essential. We certainly do not know how they act and above all we do not understand their sense of time. They are not like other organisations that have the same sense of time as us. That is why it is so important that we be able to work to understand the social support for these organisations, in the knowledge that they are prepared to die, to sacrifice their lives in these attacks, something that does not happen in the case of other kinds of organisation.

That is why it is so important that we are able to place the emphasis on the exchange of information from national police forces and not just with Europol. The European project must have sufficient capacity to promote the exchange of information amongst national police forces, who are the bodies working in particular on this phenomenon.

The Council, the Commission and this Parliament must therefore create more fora for exchanging information amongst the police forces working on this sensitive and difficult issue.

 
  
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  István Szent-Iványi (ALDE), spokesman for the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. (HU) One of the greatest and most complex challenges facing liberal democracies is international terrorism. Terrorism first and foremost targets our security, but it also fundamentally jeopardises our freedom. We must find ways of defending ourselves against terrorism and protecting our security whilst ensuring that our civil and human rights and our freedom do not fall victim as a result. Mr Duquesne’s report confronts this dilemma, and I congratulate him on this, because he knows that on the one hand, rapid and effective exchange of information is the key to this whole problem, while at the same time it is precisely due to this exchange of information that concerns arise regarding protection of personal data. In this regard, Mr Duquesne makes a very good suggestion – which I support – namely to set up a body to monitor developments throughout the whole process. But until we have put these new measures in place, we need to take as our standard, the statutory provisions prevailing in those countries, that provide the strongest protection of their citizens’ personal data.

For the second time, we propose that countries which are not yet members, but are candidates for membership, should be involved in this exchange of information – at least let us consider their inclusion as an option – in other words, countries that will soon be members of the European family and neighbouring countries that are affected in this regard. Finally, we recommend and urge that the Member States of the European Union ratify the various international agreements and treaties relating to combating terrorism as soon as possible. Many Member States have unfortunately not yet ratified many of these international agreements and we therefore have no unified means at our disposal to fight terrorism effectively.

 
  
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  Antonio López-Istúriz White (PPE-DE), draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs. (ES) Mr President, Commissioner, at this point in time, combating terrorism, preventing it and wiping it from the face of the Earth must be the sole priority objective of this European Union’s policies.

We must not forget that on 11 March, Spain and Europe were attacked in a cruel and cowardly fashion because they represent a model of the freedoms that we in this House are always trying to safeguard. On that day, 11 March, the history of Spain, the history of Europe, and hence the history of the European Union, changed. From that moment, it became necessary to acknowledge that terrorism is not a uniform, homogenous or monolithic reality.

On the contrary, that attack demonstrated that there are many different types of terrorism; the means for combating those different types of terrorism must not, therefore, be generic, but rather specific and suited to each of them. From this point of view, the terrorism of Al Qaeda cannot be fought in the same way as the terrorism of ETA or that of the IRA. And it cannot, of course, be combated if we deny its existence, as some Members here in the European Parliament want to do, by removing any mention of Al Qaeda from our anti-terrorist documents. If I have learnt one lesson from history, it is that if we ignore it, we are doomed to repeat it.

If this fight is to be effective, we must base our efforts on prevention mechanisms, and I entirely agree with the Commissioner. The fight must not be based exclusively on reaction mechanisms; the best way to combat terrorism is to prevent it. I entirely agree with Mr Mayor Oreja when he says that prevention must be based on the rapid and bilateral exchange of information amongst the specialised services of the Member States, on facilitating the systematic transmission of information to Europol and Eurojust and on the creation of registers, such as the register of European criminals, to facilitate investigations.

No difficulty must hinder the effective protection of freedom and the right to life. The defence of life and of freedom must always be our priorities in this fight.

 
  
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  Angelika Niebler (PPE-DE), draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I drafted the opinion on data retention for the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, and I should also like to restrict myself to that subject.

Before I begin, however, let me thank the rapporteur and everyone else who was involved for their work. It is surely incontestable that the democracies of the European Union must face up to the threat from crime and terrorism and engage in the effort to defeat them. The Commission’s proposal on the retention of stored and processed data could contribute to the pursuit of that aim, but not in its present form. The proposal for a framework decision has rightly come under heavy cross-party fire in this House. Allow me to highlight a few of the issues.

The proposal fails to answer the key question of the extent to which the retention of data is actually necessary and expedient. Regrettably, it contains no plausible evidence that the proposed measures will actually serve to improve our collective ability to fight crime and terrorism. Without this evidence, however, it is absolutely impossible to justify the profound effects of this type of data storage on people and businesses.

I know that the Commission is currently working on a proposal of its own. However, I ask the Commission – and indeed I personally wrote to Commissioner Frattini on this matter – to have an independent impact assessment conducted with a view to ascertaining whether the benefits of the planned measures justify their cost.

Let me also add a few words on the current process. As far as the procedural provisions are concerned, I should have liked to see a different form of parliamentary involvement in this sensitive matter. Data protection, which truly affects every individual and every business, demands a proper legislative process. Under the EC Treaty, this includes the full participation of the European Parliament.

All of which leads me to conclude that the proposal for a framework directive must be thoroughly overhauled in the light of the criticisms voiced by the European Parliament.

(Applause)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MR ONESTA
Vice-President

 
  
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  Manuel Medina Ortega (PSE), draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs. (ES) Mr President, this is a very important debate and I would like to begin by congratulating the rapporteurs, in particular my colleagues Mr Mayor Oreja and Mrs Díez González, on their reports. The report by Mrs Díez González, in particular, is highly ambitious and is intended to provide the citizens with a very high level of protection against terrorism.

I believe that one of the achievements of the modern State has been the protection of citizens against crime of all kinds. We are currently facing a very specialised kind of crime, terrorism, and this requires action not just by State institutions, but also cooperation in the international field.

As far as we are concerned, we believe that cooperation within the framework of the European institutions is fundamental and, in this regard, I would like to stress the importance of the swift ratification of the European Constitution to the citizens of Europe, since it establishes a framework for fighting terrorism that begins with the recognition of peoples’ right to life and to physical integrity, as a fundamental right, and goes on to enshrine an area of freedom, security and justice. These texts should be read it appears that some citizens of the Union do not know them yet.

The Solidarity clause in Article I-43 of the European Constitution states that ‘The Union and its Member States shall act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if a Member State is the victim of terrorist attack or natural or man-made disaster.’

It then says, ‘The Union shall mobilise all the instruments at its disposal, including the military resources made available by the Member States, to:

a) prevent the terrorist threat in the territory of the Member States,

protect democratic institutions and the civilian population from any terrorist attack,

assist a Member State in its territory at the request of its political authorities in the event of a terrorist attack;

b) assist a Member State in its territory at the request of its political authorities in the event of a disaster.’

Furthermore, the European Constitution establishes a mechanism for cooperation amongst the Member States.

My conclusion, therefore, Mr President, is that the citizens of Europe currently expect us, the European politicians, to promote the process of ratifying the European Constitution so that we may soon have the appropriate instruments for fighting this scourge.

 
  
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  Agustín Díaz de Mera García Consuegra, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. (ES) Mr President, I would like to begin by congratulating the six rapporteurs, who have carried out some very complicated work on the difficult job of combating terrorism, of drawing up a common assessment with a view to combating terrorism on the basis of legality, respect for human rights and data protection. I would like to congratulate, by name, Rosa Díez, Jaime Mayor, Stavros Lambrinidis, Antoine Duquesne, Mario Borghezio and Alexander Nuno Alvaro.

My speech relates to a documented commitment, a modest but thoroughly documented commitment, in the fight against terrorism and support and protection for its victims. Mr President, the victims must be heard, they must be respected and they must be protected, and the resources must be provided for doing all of this.

There can be no concessions for terrorism. Terrorist crimes can never be justified and they must be pursued in every part of the world.

Nevertheless, Mr President, inspired by my commitment to the victims, I have presented an amendment to Mr Borghezio’s report: Amendment 4, which relates to forms of terrorist funding.

In my country we have the so-called ‘revolutionary tax’ which is demanded by the terrorist organisation ETA. It is the worst form of extortion in the European Union; it is a form of extortion that consists of writing to Basque businesspeople and asking them to fund its criminal activities. It is estimated that this funding amounts to some EUR 12 to 15 million per year. If this funding is cut off and made impossible, the terrorist group could not survive.

There are three types of reaction to this phenomenon: there are those who pay, there are those who leave the country and there are those who do not pay but who then pay a very heavy price for not doing so. The National High Court has the legislation and processes in place for these crimes. I am therefore appealing in particular this morning to Mrs Roure to take account of what I am saying, because the support of the second largest group in the House and the other groups here is very important. I would ask you affectionately to accept and support this amendment, and to support an amendment using other more acceptable terms, such as ‘form of extortion that the terrorist organisation ETA calls a revolutionary tax’, for example, since I am talking about solidarity with the Basque and Spanish businesspeople suffering from this type of extortion.

Finally, Mr President, and I will end here, I would like to address Mr Gijs de Vries: the threat persists. And Mr de Vries, who knows that the threat persists, must have sufficient resources not just to produce strategic reports, but also to run an office that can fight terrorism effectively.

(Applause from the right)

 
  
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  Martine Roure, on behalf of the PSE Group. – (FR) Mr President, I would first like to congratulate the rapporteurs and all the members of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, who have made a particularly important contribution to this work and to this debate.

We need to demonstrate our determination by agreeing a united response as regards the fight against terrorism, because terrorist organisations have no respect for national frontiers when they commit their crimes. That is why, for us, the only effective response to terrorism is a response at European level.

The European Action Plan against terrorism must be the Union’s basic political tool in this area. We accordingly need to be ambitious in identifying specific responses to the problems which lie behind terrorism and fundamentalism. Having said that, we cannot limit ourselves solely to security policy, because terrorism amounts to a denial of our citizens’ freedoms.

That is why we should first and foremost counter terrorism by protecting and actively promoting fundamental rights. This priority under the Hague programme should also be at the heart of our policy. We must promote the values of democracy and solidarity if we are to combat the causes of terrorism. We must confront situations of extreme poverty and social exclusion, which all too often provide a breeding ground for extremist views. Within the Union, we must fight against discrimination, racism and xenophobia. By the same token, however, it would be unacceptable for the fight against terrorism to favour new forms of discrimination.

We also need to find a way of coordinating the European Union’s internal and external policies for combating terrorism. We need to encourage dialogue with non-Member States, particularly with a view to stimulating codevelopment. No one should be pushed to take desperate measures because of their precarious situation.

Furthermore, there is no doubt that transport security has an important part to play in the fight against terrorism, but it must be achieved while respecting our citizens’ right to privacy and protection of their personal data. In the light of that, we must pursue our work to adopt appropriate legislative and operational measures including the European arrest warrant, which is a fundamental instrument.

The third money laundering directive, which also covers the financing of terrorism, will also provide us with means of combating networks supporting terrorism. We are therefore calling for Europol and Eurojust to be strengthened, so that they can genuinely coordinate the fight against terrorism and organised crime in Europe.

Nevertheless, we also have to give the public guarantees about the protection of their private life. That will only be possible if data retention is provided for as an instrument under the first pillar, so as to ensure the protection of personal data. Unfortunately, this process has been slowed down by a lack of political will on the part of the Member States to make European decisions truly effective.

By way of conclusion, I would like to say that reason has always been a victim of hatred, violence and fear. We are living in an era of fundamentalism, accompanied by fanaticism and terrorism. The world seems to have become politically and economically inflamed, and it is vital for us in the Union to create renewed confidence in democracy and to fight against all those instances of injustice that provide a breeding ground for violence.

 
  
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  Ignasi Guardans Cambó, on behalf of the ALDE Group. (ES) Mr President, I am not sure whether I am speaking on behalf of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe or on my own behalf — I rather believe I am speaking on my own behalf.

In any event, it is clear that this is an important debate. Several reports are being presented to this House today, each of which has followed its own course through the committee stage, and, together, they demonstrate very clearly the importance that this Parliament attaches to this debate.

The rapporteurs for these reports deserve our congratulations and we should also be pleased that they have appreciated the need to accept many amendments that have improved them and have clarified some of the statements contained in the original texts, in some cases in a very significant manner. In any event, today this Parliament will make very clear its commitment to an extremely vigorous fight against terrorism in terms of policing, in terms of judicial efficiency, but one that, at the same time, is extremely respectful of human rights, of data protection, of the guarantees without which this fight against terrorism makes no sense, a fight that takes account of the victims of terrorism, on the basis of respect — it naturally does not put political decisions into their hands, that would not be appropriate, but it is logical that they should have a voice and be heard directly — and which, without justifying terrorism nor those who sacrifice themselves or are capable of indiscriminate murder in any way, without justifying it under any circumstances, it is an anti-terrorist policy that deals with the possible reasons why somebody may become a terrorist.

We cannot look at terrorism as if it had just landed from Mars. There are situations which lead to people being prepared to kill, and that does not excuse the individuals who do so, but it does oblige us, as politicians, to examine why and which specific situations lie behind this behaviour.

The balance, therefore, between this vigorous fight, this examination of the reality as it stands, and respect for human rights, is actually a real balance which, if translated from these reports into political action, could have significant results.

Some amendments remain alive, and some of them I presented myself on behalf of my group — in this case, it was on behalf of my group. I would like to highlight two of them.

Firstly, we are talking about terrorism from many sources and, therefore, to mention Islam, even if we only say, ‘We believe that Islam is fundamentally fine, but we are worried about Islamic terrorists’, would be to mix terrorism with Islam. We therefore propose the removal of any reference to Islam in this document, because otherwise we could be producing a list of those who are potential terrorists. We have not done that, and it would be very dangerous to do so because we would always leave somebody out. Let us not, therefore, mix up terrorism and Islam, even if that only means introducing a clause stating that ‘Islam is fundamentally okay’, which is what these reports apparently intend to do unless this amendment is approved.

Secondly, we propose the removal of any reference to the International Criminal Court. We believe that this court is only now beginning its work, and to complicate its operation through a debate on its powers in the anti-terrorist field would only jeopardise its operation. Let us, therefore, leave that debate out of the issue we are dealing with today. There are other ways to deal with it, and today we should be dealing with what is already operational.

Finally, I would like to say to Mr Gijs de Vries, who is honouring us with his presence today, that the important thing is to turn all of this into political action and concrete measures.

 
  
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  Johannes Voggenhuber, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. (DE) Mr President, with seven reports today, this Parliament is trying to arrive at a comprehensive common position on terrorism and to organise the fight against that terrorism.

This is a monumental task that we are undertaking. Allow me to specify what it entails. The task is to win a struggle against adversaries who cast aside all human qualities, break every rule and every law, disregard national and moral boundaries, know no restraint and fanatically pursue the criminal aim of abolishing human freedom. Our goal is to win this war without sacrificing our own decency, casting aside our humanity, betraying our own laws or endangering personal freedom within our own domestic territory.

That is the task, and it is incredibly difficult. Even for war, common rules have been developed over the centuries, but here we are faced with adversaries lurking in the shadows, imperceptible and transcending all borders. This makes firm resolve and a common approach essential, but it also requires us to realise that we must not let our sensitivity to our own people’s needs and rights be deadened at the sound of the word ‘terrorism’ or give carte blanche for the use of any and every instrument in the war on terrorism. Mr Alvaro, one of the rapporteurs, raised this point. I believe it is particularly important to emphasise that fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law do not seem to be adequately protected by the provisions of this draft.

There is another aspect, however, that confronts us with an entirely new situation. The whole González report is based on the assumption that the European Constitution will enter into force. It builds on the foundations of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, parliamentary codecision, open legislative processes, the solidarity clause, the right to determine the disclosure and use of one’s own personal data, parliamentary scrutiny, judicial review and the dissolution of the pillar structure in favour of a unified Europe. This is not wishful thinking or a dream that may be set to crumble before our eyes. No, it is an absolute, imperative and indispensable prerequisite for this package of measures and its legitimacy and for the defence of fundamental rights.

Without this prerequisite, without the European Constitution, we are in no position to approve this catalogue of measures, because there is no guarantee that the balance between justice, security and freedom will be preserved. Add to this the fact that, on the issue of converting Europol into an agency and of transferring the Counter-terrorism Coordinator to the staff of the Commission, there is still no more on the table than our request – no consent, no explanation – and it becomes clear that we run the risk of upsetting the balance here and jeopardising our citizens’ freedom.

 
  
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  Giusto Catania, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the first sentence in the strategic document on national defence approved by the United States in March 2005 states: the United States and the world are fighting a war. That is the ideological premise that has given rise in recent years to the theory of preventative war, the violation of individual freedoms, the end of personal data protection, and the fixation on security.

Terrorism is an extremely serious crime that must be condemned and combated. It cannot be combated by military means, however, and I believe, therefore, that Europe must distance itself from that approach. We must carefully analyse the spiral of war and terrorism, because the military response has strengthened terrorism, and we cannot sidestep this issue. In Afghanistan, the military occupation has generated exponential growth in the production of opium, which is funding the al-Qa’ida network. In Iraq, the war has boosted the strength of terrorist groups, not all of which are religiously motivated, and that is the reason why we need to remove the anti-Islam fixation from some of the reports being examined in this House.

Such a fixation also reveals a cultural subordination to the United States. President Bush has, in fact, asked Islamic regimes to limit, control and record all charitable donations made by Muslims. We, however, cannot look upon not-for-profit organisations as the main source of terrorist funding, as do some of the rapporteurs in this House. We must avoid making overly simplistic equations along the lines of terrorism equals immigration, or terrorism equals Islam.

Terrorism must be combated and defeated: the aim is noble, but the methods are all too often improper and sometimes criminal. Terrorism is a crime against humanity, but I do not believe that it is necessary to single out an International Criminal Court as the place for trying such crimes, partly because at the same time it is unacceptable that nobody judges the massacres of civilians during military actions.

All too often sovereignty relieves the prince of criminal liability. An influential expert in law once said that the legal history of the Western State is that of instilling the notion of its innocence in criminal acts. I believe that in order to combat terrorism, we must re-examine the old legal proverb that says that the king is never wrong.

 
  
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  James Hugh Allister (NI). Mr President, in this debate on terrorism I welcome the fact that last Saturday morning, in Belfast, an IRA member, Terry Davison, was charged in court with the murder of Robert McCartney and that a second IRA person, Jim McCormick, was charged with the attempted murder of Mr McCartney's friend, Brendan Devine.

I should like to congratulate the police service of Northern Ireland on overcoming an IRA-orchestrated and ongoing campaign of intimidation to begin the process of securing justice in this notorious case. I trust that many more charges will follow, for that is the only way to deal with the processes of terrorism.

The mission of democracies must be to defeat terrorism, not merely to contain or to tame it. 'Softly, softly' conciliation is merely banked by the terrorists, who then demand more and more. We have lived through that in Northern Ireland: our government foolishly tolerated 'no go' areas for their own security forces, an acceptable level of violence, political status for prisoners, secret talks, side deals, the restructuring and renaming of the police, the soft-pedalling of paramilitary organised crime, and the ultimate ignominy of the early release of terrorists under the ill-conceived Belfast Agreement. None of it worked, because the latest International Monitoring Committee report shows that we still have a functioning, recruiting, training, threatening and active IRA that works hand-in-glove with its junior partner, Sinn Féin, whose members, as ever, are notably absent when we debate terrorism in this House.

I implore the rest of Europe to learn the lessons. Be quicker in learning than the British Government was, and learn the lesson that terrorism cannot be tamed or sanitised but must be resolutely defeated and driven out of business, including all its sidelines of criminality.

 
  
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  Frederika Brepoels (PPE-DE). (NL) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I should first of all like to thank the six rapporteurs for their reports. As shadow rapporteur for my group, I have tried to make a positive contribution to the Borghezio report to help combat the financing of terrorism. It is evident from all interventions that there is general agreement on the need for coordinated action to combat internationally organised crime and the means by which it is financed. The public expects a powerful European response. After all, the benefit of European cooperation in this respect is beyond dispute. Tracing and combating the financing of terrorist networks and/or attacks is not an easy task because it is often small amounts that are involved.

Apart from the abuses via the regular financial sector, it is mainly charities that are the favourite hunting ground for international terrorists. Accordingly, recent Belgian police statistics show that an increasing number of non-profit organisations are taken advantage of for criminal activities. Following the attacks of 11 September 2001, everyone was suddenly given a wake-up call, and no fewer than 86 dossiers were opened in our country. The organisations involved all state that they do charitable work, but their only raison d’être, though, is the collection and channelling of funds for the benefit of terrorist organisations. Such statistics, but also the result of the enquiry into the murder of Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands, for example, demonstrate that we must, as a matter of urgency, adopt preventive policies based on the exchange of information, better traceability of financial transactions and greater transparency of legal entities. That is why the specific recommendations in this report, including the setting up of common frameworks for transnational investigations, developing a network for the structured exchange of information, improving cooperation with SUSTRANS and the drafting of minimum standards for the verification of customers’ identities, receive our support.

Finally, we also want to provide charities with the necessary funds to guarantee a more effective protection against abuse by terrorist organisations. We therefore hope that this report can give the initial impetus for combating the financing of terrorism in the European Union in a structural and sustainable manner.

 
  
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  Wolfgang Kreissl-Dörfler (PSE). (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we agree that we must take resolute action against international terrorism and organised crime. Today, however, I should like to re-emphasise that we must adopt the right measures.

In my opinion and in the view of my group, the proposal on the retention of stored and processed data is not the right tool for the job. We made this abundantly clear with our vote in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. Let me also make a point of congratulating my honourable colleague Mr Alvaro on his report.

The protection of individuals’ personal data is not guaranteed by the Council’s proposal. It would impose huge costs on the European telecommunications industry, and the benefits of storage are not sufficiently commensurate with the effort involved. There are too many opportunities for circumvention against which the Council’s proposal offers no safeguards. What about flat-rate contracts and the use of foreign mobiles from Brazil or Asia, for example?

Even the BDK, the trade union representing Germany’s criminal police, has emphasised that it is the quality of data which is crucial, not necessarily the quantity or the retention period. What we have in this case is a knee-jerk reaction, which merely creates the illusion of greater security. We surely cannot seriously intend to store data on more than four million people generated by the use of the Internet, telephone calls and text messages. If in doubt, we need only look across the ocean to the country that very often exceeds the bounds of reason in its anti-terrorism measures.

The US Congress rejected a similar bill on the retention of stored and processed data on the grounds – believe it or not – that the proposed measures went too far. Instead, an agreement was reached on the ‘quick freeze’ mechanism, which is perhaps a suitable solution. Why can the same thing not happen in Europe? The German Bundestag has rejected the Council’s proposal. Finland has also warned against data retention. What really riles me and puts me in a veritable lather is the news that the European Ministers of Justice plan to go against the recommendation of our committee and implement the Council’s plans for the retention of data come what may, without parliamentary codecision.

In the light of the referenda in France and the Netherlands, it beggars belief that any attempt can be made to squeeze Parliament out of the decision-making process. Such a move is downright dangerous. We are not talking here about a single measure to combat terrorism but about public protection and the rights of every individual in this European Union. For the Council to say in this context that it will decide unilaterally as it always has done will not bring the European Union any further forward.

The fact is that much of what has gone awry in the European Union and has shaken many people’s belief in the Union is due to the policies, often driven by self-interest, pursued by ministers of the national governments.

 
  
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  Sarah Ludford (ALDE). Mr President, let me begin by commenting on EU action on justice and home affairs. Criticism of the Hague Programme for placing undue emphasis on security considerations at the expense of respect for fundamental rights is justified. It is not the remark of some left-wing agitator, but a sober assessment by the upper chamber of the British Parliament – the respectable House of Lords.

Of course, threats to our security are threats to our freedom, but the reverse is also true. Undue infringements of our civil liberties make us less secure as individuals. I fully support the work of the last four years to ensure that our law enforcement agencies shed their insular and bureaucratic habits, and that our legal and judicial systems are enabled to interact, so that terrorist suspects cannot slip through the cracks. But in the words of the European data protection supervisors meeting a few weeks ago: "Terrorism is used as a justification for new initiatives, many of which deal with a range of offences, some of which are significantly less serious. It is important to recognise that derogations from fundamental rights that might be justified to tackle terrorism, will not necessarily be justified where other criminal or activity is concerned." They look forward, as I do, to implementation of the suggestion, made by Commissioner Fratini when addressing a meeting of the Joint Supervisory Authorities, that the Commission would consider an a priori assessment of proportionality of any measures to be introduced in future, examining the impact of the proposal on fundamental rights including the question of personal data protection.

Regarding exchange of information, the guiding norm adopted in the Hague Programme is the principle of availability. That is entirely reasonable, as long as it means ending the kind of inexcusable turf wars and jealousies between agencies that prevent cooperation, but clearly it must not be misinterpreted to mean the abandonment of strict controls over retention, transfer and access to personal information.

I am concerned about the potential for profiling people as potential terrorists on the basis of their race, religion or political opinions. The data protection supervisors are firm that the processing of such data should normally be prohibited.

The other area where serious concern exists is in respect of the rights of terrorist suspects. The Council of Europe guidelines on detaining suspects without fair trial have certainly been breached in the United Kingdom and probably in other EU countries. There has been a slide towards relying on evidence extracted under torture and rendition to those countries in breach of the ban on refoulement.

Member States conduct peer review of each other's anti-terrorism and security measures, but they still have not managed to make all Member States even implement the 2002 framework decision on terrorism – the very law which makes it obligatory to criminalise terrorism. While it remains the case that Member States are not implementing their laws, I really find it unacceptable that we should continue to infringe personal liberties.

 
  
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  Kathalijne Maria Buitenweg (Verts/ALE). (NL) Mr President, we are on the horns of a difficult dilemma, and in what we might call a chicken and egg situation; should we have sorted out democracy and put democratic and judicial controls in place, or should effective decision-making come first in order to bring about mass public support for a European democracy? The answer is, of course, that we need both. As Mr Oreja has already said, terrorism and the fight against it are outstanding examples of transnational issues, and that is why we should work together more effectively. That is easier said than done, though, for 25 countries have 25 veto rights. Decisions are drawn out, resulting in woolly compromises or, quite simply, in no action being taken at all. In my view, countries should now jump over their own shadows.

At the same time, we should also acknowledge that the Council has to take decisions on very sensitive matters, which have an impact on civil rights. That is another reason why the process of reaching them should be shrouded in such secrecy. I think that the Council should start having meetings, and voting, in public. Neither of these changes would require any change in the treaty. It is simply a matter of opening doors. I hope that Parliament will take joint action to enter into consultation with the Council on this subject.

Much has been said about terrorism being an attack on our fundamental freedoms and that we should thus not make the mistake of undermining those same civil rights. Privacy is another much-quoted example. Privacy is, of course, not sacred per se, but infringements should always be proportionate, necessary, effective and verifiable. Indeed, the proposal to store communications traffic data is therefore outside of all proportion. If the Council adopts it, Parliament should go to the Court of Justice. Moreover, the Council trying to circumvent democratic control by taking this decision in the third, instead of the first, pillar offers us little comfort. For indeed, once again, if we want to protect democracy from terrorism, we should not mess it up in the first place.

 
  
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  Κyriacos Τriantaphyllides (GUE/NGL).(EL) Mr President, I wish to thank all the rapporteurs for their reports, but when we talk about terrorism, we need to take particular care to present a clear position on the content of the term.

Indicative of the dangers lying in ambush when we give hazardous definitions is the difficulty being experienced by the international community itself and the UN in making an entirely objective interpretation of terrorism feasible.

Terrorism is a crime which we condemn unreservedly, provided that the term is not abused in order to prosecute liberating movements and radicalism. Unfortunately, the degree of excess in the measures being adopted under the Action Plan allows conservative forces to justify taking measures which do anything but defend a climate of security. At the same time, we need to be very careful with regard to the legislative framework into which we are trying fit terrorism, in order to ensure that it will not form the basis for military intervention, which would be contrary to the principles of international law and the founding Charter of the United Nations.

The plethora of measures taken by the European Union in its fight against terrorism is based mainly on the need for there to be a climate of security. This is essentially the priority which has been set. The taking of measures which will safeguard the peaceful coexistence of and a sense of security among the citizens of the European Union is not of secondary importance. Under no circumstances, however, can they be safeguarded on the basis of the interests of big business, of curbing citizens' consciences and of strengthening the climate of fear and insecurity which is the result of excessive controls on and the reduction of it, for example in the human rights sector.

The Action Plan responds mainly to a given interpretation of terrorism and does not aim to resolve its deeper causes. It responds mainly to existing hegemonic trends and does not address, as we think it should, the underlying cause, which is hunger, poverty, social injustice, the failure to respect civil and national dignity, discrimination, racism, the trampling underfoot of human rights in general and state terrorism. Consequently, efforts to strengthen this plan in the direction and towards the objectives which it serves worry us and we consider that it cannot, as it now stands, constitute a solution for the creation of an area of real freedom and security.

 
  
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  Georgios Karatzaferis (IND/DEM).(EL) Mr President, I have been the victim of terrorism. At the television station which I manage in Athens, I have been on the receiving end of two bomb attacks. The station was burnt to the ground and it is a terrible thing to see people surrounded by flames trying to save themselves. I have also been attacked in my home. I drive around in an armoured car with security. I sleep with an Uzi under my pillow. It is terrible to know that you can be attacked at any moment.

However, we must admit that terrorism has already won its first victories against democracy. What are these victories? The television cameras, the telephone tapping, the reductions in human rights and the biometric passports which are entering our lives. All these are victories by terrorism, insofar as we are cutting back on democracy.

People use terrorism in order to impose global control. They feed it. When we say that terrorists are usually Islamic fundamentalists and then people go and urinate and spit on the Koran, are they not feeding Islamic fundamentalism? We therefore have to look at it from the other side. It is no good looking at terrorism from the benches of the European Parliament. We need to look at terrorism from inside the caves in Afghanistan and from how someone there sees it, so that we can at some point have a communication code and resolve the issue. Why does a millionaire prince not live in the casinos of London, why does he not live in the Bahamas and not in the lap, for example, of beautiful women, but goes to live and die in a cave? We have to see it as it is. Is it fanaticism? That is the easy answer. But what feeds this fanaticism? Were we always so honest in the past? Did we not have these areas of the planet enslaved for years? Was our ally in the hunt for terrorists not guilty of the worst ethnic cleansing in centuries when it wiped out an entire race, the Red Indians? Did it not base its progress on torturing and enslaving the Negroes?

Perhaps we too are not quite so correct? What is our stand today? Do we not have a one-sided stand on the Middle East? What are we going to collect? Now we say that Gaddafi, who brought down a Pan American aeroplane and killed dozens of people, is our friend because he has changed policy; at the same time, however, we hound Castro, who has not brought down any aeroplanes. We say that the dictator in Pakistan is good because he is our friend, but we say that another dictator is bad and we wage war on him. We therefore need to look at how honest we are on the subject of terrorism. We need to look at what is happening. We need to keep our ears open, because as long as we keep taking aspirins, we shall continue to have a headache. We need to look at what is causing the headache. So we need to open our eyes and stop this one-sided policy. We need to give more incentives, more opportunities to these nations in order to reduce fundamentalism, in order to reduce terrorism. That is the solution.

 
  
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  Frank Vanhecke (NI). (NL) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, in the short space of time that has been allocated to me, I should like to say three things about matters of fundamental importance.

Firstly, surely it is a crying shame that to date, it is still so awkward and such an uphill struggle to achieve concrete cooperation and exchange of information on combating terrorism, not only between one Member State and another, but also between the European Member States and the other countries of the free west. Well-informed eurosceptic though I am, I do believe there cannot, in that area at least, be enough cooperation. The fact is that the safety of our citizens is at stake.

We now know that the 11 September attacks were, at least in part, planned in Hamburg. We know that following the Madrid bomb attack, terrorist cells have been exposed across the whole of Europe. It is evident that terrorism transcends national borders, and so, then, should the fight against it.

Secondly, this is no time for a failure of nerve; we have to call a spade a spade. Terrorism in Europe has become almost exclusively Islamic. American experts are warning us today about the return from Iraq, and other troublespots, of Islamic militants who have, over there, become more radical and have learnt terrorist techniques. Intolerant Islam is on the march in Europe, and is very much a breeding ground for terrorism. Not every Muslim is a terrorist but nearly every terrorist is a Muslim.

Thirdly, I would also draw your attention to the fact that for many years now, European aid for the Palestinians is being used, not only to allow Mrs Arafat to lead a life of luxury in Paris, but also to fund terrorism in Israel. We cannot combat terrorism in Europe while funding it in Israel. If the use of funds in Palestine does not become clearer and more transparent, the supply of them should be suspended.

 
  
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  Panayiotis Demetriou (PPE-DE).(EL) Mr President, we have heard a great many useful views and proposals from the rapporteurs today and I congratulate both them and Vice-President Frattini for the programmes which he has put forward for combating terrorism.

Terrorism is an abstract term but it has a specific political bedrock. Terrorists are specific persons who exist but, at the same time, they are invisible and unseen. Consequently, the global strategy against terrorism will only succeed either when we have wiped all – and I mean all – terrorists out, or if the political support on which terrorism is based disappears. The first is impossible. It is possible to achieve the second.

As a tactic of war or political tactic, terrorism is the most abominable of phenomena. Inhumane terrorist action cannot be legitimised or justified in any way or for any reason. However, those who practise barbaric terrorist methods cite some special religious and/or occasionally social cause and they have moral and political support from a number of societies. It is to these societies that we need to turn. The European Union is in a position to penetrate these societies and act as a catalyst. In the case both of the Arabs and in other cases, Europe is not seen as the great big devil or as the people's enemy. This is precisely where we need to allocate roles between the European Union and the United States, Russia and other countries involved.

Together with the condemnatory chatter of the European Union and the escalation of legislative and other measures against terrorism, we need to develop our own communication strategy with the moderate elements in these societies. I am sure that, with this strategy, the European Union will be able to pull the rug out from under the terrorists' feet. That is the only way that terrorism will disappear rather than diminish, and it is in this direction that the European Union, the Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission must turn as one.

 
  
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  Edith Mastenbroek (PSE). (NL) Mr President, I should like to thank all the rapporteurs for the work that has gone into producing the reports that we are discussing today, which repeatedly stress the fact that upholding and promoting human rights is the most important and best strategy for preventing and fighting terror. Commissioner Frattini has indicated that counter-terrorism should, in fact, entail a reinforcement of human rights, and I could not agree more. Upholding and promoting such important values as democracy, freedom, pluralism and human dignity is crucial in the fight against terrorism. It is beyond dispute that in order to make this really happen, we will need to fundamentally reconsider large sections of our policy, particularly external policy.

The radicalisation and polarisation that so often both go towards producing terrorism and result from it are at least as great a threat to the European Union as terrorism itself. We politicians must be acutely aware of this and try to keep a cool head at all times. Rather than stir up fear unnecessarily, we must be realistic and avoid getting drawn into the hysteria that only fuels the tensions on which terrorism feeds.

In any case, we must not fall into the trap of going along with the bizarre arguments to which terrorists resort in order to justify their disgraceful actions. We must take measures which truly enhance the freedom of all citizens and keep well away from measures that only appear to enhance security. In that connection, two of the measures discussed at this forum deserve more attention, in my opinion.

First of all, the idea of penalising terrorism at the International Criminal Court. I wonder what specific problem that would solve. Must we really treat terrorists as we do ex-dictators like Milosevic? I know this much; the man who murdered Theo van Gogh, a well-known film maker and much-talked about columnist and opinion maker from my country, the Netherlands, would love to be able to use the platform that such a case would afford him. I am therefore emphatically opposed to that idea.

Then there is the storage of communications traffic data, an example of a measure that leads only to false security, if ever there was one. I shall not elaborate on it any further, since much has already been said about this. It is disproportionate, it restricts our freedom and I think it is this very freedom that we have to promote in the European Union. There are risks involved; you can introduce all kinds of restrictions with regard to accessibility to information of that kind, but let us face it, anything that is available on the Internet is universally accessible, no matter how well protected it is, so the risks involved probably outweigh the benefits. I do not think we should go ahead with this. Instead, as the Internet is indeed developing into by far the best means of communication for people who want to find out about terrorists and recruit them for others, we should get our security services to specialise in Internet participation, in reading and chatting on the Internet, in other words, to actively monitor what happens in that medium. That would make a real difference

To find out afterwards which websites a person has visited after they have carried out a bomb attack does not strike me as being the best strategy. We must prevent those bomb attacks from being carried out in the first place. I think that such a measure – the legal basis of which has been discussed here several times and moreover, the way in which this decision has been taken is a blatant violation of democracy – undermines confidence in European democracy, the risks of which have recently made themselves felt in a painful manner.

 
  
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  Sophia in 't Veld (ALDE). Mr President, I wish to begin by expressing my regret at the French and the Dutch ‘no’ to the Constitution, because the EU will now have to fight terrorism with one hand tied behind its back.

The citizens have given a very clear signal in the debate on the referenda. I would, therefore, call on the Council to work in the spirit of the Constitution, and that means respecting three key principles. The first is democratic control. That means that the Council should not ignore and sideline the European Parliament, but should take its recommendations on board, even if it is not yet obliged to. The other two aspects mentioned by many colleagues are proportionality and effectiveness. Again, in these areas, the Council should think twice about certain measures.

Its own report on the implementation of the action plan to combat terrorism shows that there are considerable gaps in implementation. Before adopting new measures we should be looking at implementation. In the case of the peer review, for example, only ten out of twenty-five countries have so far submitted their implementation reports! How can we take new steps if we do not even know if the old ones work?

I now turn to three specific issues. Firstly, data retention. A lot has already been said and again I would call on the Council to act in the spirit of the Constitution and not ignore the European Parliament. It should also not ignore the signals given by many countries – the example of the United States has already been mentioned. But I would add to those examples the case of the Dutch Parliament, which wanted to adopt a similar data retention measure. However, once it found out how that would work – or, rather, not work – in practice, the Dutch Parliament reconsidered it, because it realised that the data retention proposal was simply not workable. The Council should not ignore this. It is regrettable that the Council is not present on this occasion.

With passenger name records, there have also been several incidents. We were promised an evaluation a year after this entered into force. I should like to know from the Commission when we can expect the evaluation.

Thirdly, we would like to know more about the SitCen, the Situation Centre. What exactly is it doing, what kind of information does it deal with and will it report to the European Parliament?

Finally, I ask the European Parliament to show its colours. We have talked a lot today about the protection of personal data and fundamental rights. I call on this Parliament to adopt not only all the reports on antiterrorism measures but also the Moraes report on anti-discrimination policies and minority rights, because fundamental rights are for all citizens.

 
  
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  Hélène Flautre (Verts/ALE). – (FR) Mr President, as I see it, the challenge we face is to fight terrorism effectively while fully respecting human rights and basic freedoms. As has already been said, we have our hands tied because of the ‘no’ vote here in France, and there is also another major problem or handicap: there is no international definition of terrorism. That means that no possible legal remedy exists, and there is no legal certainty, no guarantee and no protection. I therefore believe that the European Union should strive towards a properly recognised definition, both for itself and at international level.

Mr Van Hecke proposed a simple definition: for terrorist, read Muslim. President Putin has another definition: terrorist means Chechen. The Chinese have other definitions. I believe that these incredibly broad, abusive and arbitrary definitions of terrorism mean that we are losing our ability to act effectively in the fight against terrorism. I accordingly believe that we, that is to say the European Union, should make a significant effort, as quickly as possible – at the next UN General Assembly, for example – to secure a definition of terrorism, which is vital and which will also facilitate genuine cooperation between states, at European level and also at world level.

 
  
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  Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann (GUE/NGL). (DE) Mr President, allow me to remind the House of the wise words of Benjamin Franklin, one of the fathers of the American Constitution, who said that ’Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety’.

Since the criminal atrocities in Madrid, we have known that Europe is now a direct target area for international terrorism. There can be no doubt that this fact must be taken into account in the formulation of public policy. Every form of terrorism is a crime that threatens the very foundations of our democracy, and these crimes must be combated and must have consequences that befit their gravity. They must, however, be combated with appropriate instruments and not at the cost of freedom. It goes without saying that our national investigating authorities must cooperate more closely. At the same time, we must not create a situation in which data and information are collected, linked and exchanged ever more indiscriminately until the transparent citizen emerges at some time in the near future. We must not go down the path towards an Orwellian Big Brother state. People’s fundamental rights must not be put on the line.

We need a targeted policy involving, on the one hand, zero tolerance of terrorism in any shape or form and, on the other hand, a sharp focus on the aim of eradicating the various causes of terrorism. This is the only way of ultimately cutting off its supply line.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE-DE).(PT) Mr President, Mr Frattini, ladies and gentlemen, terrorism is not a new phenomenon, but the tragic events of recent years have demonstrated its destructive power. The fight against terrorism is one of the biggest challenges that we face in the 21st century.

I commend all of the rapporteurs for their efforts and their work on this dossier. It does not matter how terrorism occurs, where it occurs, who the perpetrators are, the justifications they put forward or the causes they fight for. All terrorist acts, methods or practices are politically and morally unjustifiable, and must be unequivocally condemned and staunchly combated.

The tragic events of 11 March in Madrid led the Union to question the effectiveness of its instruments and policies, and illustrated the urgent need for a fresh, dynamic, systematic and effective approach. It was in this context that the post of EU coordinator in the fight against terrorism was created, and I should like to welcome Mr De Vries, who is in the House today.

I support a clear strategy in the fight against terrorism aimed at striking a balance between collective security and individual freedom. This involves, firstly, stepping up the EU’s prevention strategy, preparedness and ability to respond. There has been a significant increase in sources of financing. The warning system relating to the trade in goods and the provision of services must be improved, in order to provide better monitoring of suspected movements, without disrupting the normal dynamics of the market.

At the same, public and private institutions, particularly in the banking sector, must work together more closely. Thirdly, there must be increased capacity in the area of information, including the essential improvement in the exchange of information with Europol, prevention and consequence management and critical infrastructure protection in the fight against terrorism, which entails drawing up more stringent rules on security and showing solidarity with any Member State that falls victim to a terrorist attack.

Lastly, I turn to the extremely important question of solidarity with the victims of terrorism. When innocent people are murdered, abducted or tortured, or subjected to extortion, blackmail or threats, they are not the only ones who suffer; all of their family Members, their friends and their community as a whole suffer with them.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MR FRIEDRICH
Vice-President

 
  
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  Genowefa Grabowska (PSE).   (PL) Mr President, terrorism is a deadly disease that became a global epidemic at the turn of this century. We are now living in a world of two extremes, and by this I mean not only a world of poverty and wealth, but also a world of good and evil. The good is represented by public security, and the evil by terrorism.

We have learned to carry out scientific research into terrorism, to identify its different forms and to look in detail at its causes. We have also grown accustomed to referring to state terrorism, individual terrorism, global terrorism, local terrorism and fundamentalism. Nevertheless, the simple truth is that there is only one kind of terrorism, namely when one person perpetrates inconceivable evil against another.

One of the European Union’s basic duties, and one which is enshrined in Article 29 of the Treaty of Maastricht, is to provide its citizens with a high level of safety. The questions we should be asking ourselves are whether it is succeeding in doing so, and whether our citizens feel safe. The likely answer to the second of these questions is that they do not always feel safe, because we are all aware of what happened on 11 March in Madrid, and of a great many similar incidents.

Criminals exploit the benefits of integration by moving about freely within the EU, where there are no internal borders. They frequently go unpunished, since the EU has 25 different legal and penal systems. In order to stop this happening, the EU must develop new and more effective instruments. The anti-terrorist package under debate today is intended to help us to do just that. I am glad to see that as well as anti-terror proposals, the package also calls urgently for human rights to be protected. Consideration is given to all previous regulations and measures, from TREVI in 1975 to the Hague Programme, via Vienna, Tampere and the action plan adopted following 11 September 2001. These measures have resulted in the introduction of a European arrest warrant, the establishment of Eurojust and the appointment of an EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator.

If we wish to achieve results, however, the EU must do more than merely making constant and systematic improvements to the instruments it uses in the fight against terrorism. New measures that involve closer cooperation are needed in order to find a solution to what is known as megaterrorism, or in other words terrorism using weapons of mass destruction. We must move faster than terrorists and anticipate their actions, rather than waiting for attacks and then dealing with their impact. We must take speedier and more effective action, and terrorists must be aware of this and feel its effects. Closer cooperation at international level will be needed, together with implementation of the provisions of Article 43 of the European Constitution, or in other words of the solidarity clause that is of such significance for us.

Finally, I should like to say that as a Pole, I am extremely proud that it is Poland that has been entrusted with the task of protecting the EU’s external borders. By doing so, we will be able to make our own contribution to the fight against terrorism.

 
  
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  Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE). (FI) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, in the fight against terrorism it is important both to combine forces at national level and at the same time enhance cooperation between the institutions of the Union. It is not enough to react to terrorism with the police and intelligence services working closely together, although they are, of course, crucially important. The fight against terrorism is fundamentally linked to measures that already help to reduce our society’s vulnerability. An example might be ensuring the security of industrial activity and effective cooperation and exchange of information in the emergency services.

Acts of terror are tragic and, as their name suggests, they are designed to spread fear and panic. For that reason, European societies have to be made stronger from within, in terms of their structures and culture in relation to action, and become societies where there is less potential for terrorism. Administrative transparency and the awareness of citizens of their environment, including its risks, are of central importance. We must also be able to act correctly and effectively in emergency situations. The vulnerability of the infrastructure needs to be lessened through determined action, and the exchange of information within the administrative sectors regarding evident risks needs to be increased.

It is vitally important that research in the EU is developed in the appropriate manner to support the fight against terrorism. We must ensure that the Union’s research efforts in the area of internal and external security are sufficiently in dialogue with one another. Effective counter-terrorism measures can only be successful when they combine the best European expertise, research into the defence and the emergency service sectors, and other security-related research.

 
  
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  Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL).(EL) Mr President, the Council decisions and the reports which we are debating today are endeavouring, on the pretext of combating terrorism, to achieve, firstly, the creation and application of a more autocratic institutional framework and the creation and strengthening of new repressive mechanisms, monitoring systems etc., the real objective of which is not the fight against this terrorism you are talking about, but the rising grass-roots movement and the peoples' fight against the new imperialist order.

Secondly, they are endeavouring, by adopting preventive war against terrorism, to prepare the people to accept new interventions and wars. It is telling that not one report denounces – on the contrary they exonerate – the state terrorist action of the United States and other countries in Afghanistan and Iraq, Israeli terrorism in Palestine etc. In truth, we ask you: is the slaughter of 100 000 civilians in Fallujah in one week by the American militia terrorism or is it not?

Finally, the Council's decision last November and the Oreja report introduce the position that radical movements or extreme ideologies are a source of terrorism and this means that social movements and grass-roots rights qualify as terrorism. What we note is that you are frightened of the rising grass-roots fights which have emerged ...

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  Ioannis Varvitsiotis (PPE-DE).(EL) Mr President, the commitment by all of us to combat all forms of terrorism is non-negotiable and constant and is also one of the priorities of the Hague programme.

However, in order for terrorism to be prevented and combated effectively, there needs to be systematic cooperation between the Member States at legislative level and the level of information exchange, in blocking financing and in protecting international transport. Finally, there needs to be a detailed and ceaseless preventive policy and the European Union now needs to act proactively and not simply react to tragic incidents.

The first weapon against terrorism is information. As terrorism is now an international phenomenon and operates on an international scale, we need collection and exchange of information at international level and better assessment of threats, taking account always of the need to respect privacy and to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms which are elements of our civilisation.

The reports by all the rapporteurs, through various points of view, converge in common findings with which I fully agree. However, I believe that the existence of numerous texts, not only of these eight reports being debated today, but of all the others which have been adopted from time to time, is creating the risk of confusion and inefficacy. I should like to propose to the Commissioner here present, Mr Frattini, that the competent Commission services proceed to codify all the relevant texts. I am certain that this would also result in the simplification and systemisation of and in cohesion between the texts. Otherwise there is confusion and confusion must be avoided. Confusion does not create the preconditions for the proper combating of terrorism.

 
  
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  Erika Mann (PSE). (DE) Mr President, Commissioner Frattini, ladies and gentlemen, I really only wish to refer to one point, which relates to the announcement at the very end of your speech, Commissioner, that you intend to conduct two simulations in the near future. May I ask you to inform Parliament of these in good time, because it is very important that we should cooperate in this matter.

Together with my honourable colleague Jerzy Buzek, I myself took part in a simulation exercise in Washington on 14 January. That was Exercise Atlantic Storm, which was devoted to bioterrorism. We then discussed the subject again in the framework of the New Defence Agenda in Brussels on 25 April. We identified three main points, which we simply must spend more time discussing.

The first point was our realisation that cooperation must become far more intensive than we are used to at the present time. This relates both to cooperation among the Member States and to Europe’s cooperation with the United States and with other relevant countries that ought to be involved. This cooperation is extremely important, but at the present time it is still very sporadic in some cases. It is not conducted systematically either, nor does its methodology give us any real cause for satisfaction with the present system. It is not reliable, nor is it transparent, either in general terms or in relation to Parliament, and transparency is crucial if the defects of the system are to be identified and corrected. That is one point.

The second inadequacy is in the field of prevention. With specific reference to bioterrorism, I should like to ask you how far we have actually progressed to date on prevention with regard to vaccines. In our simulation in Washington, we established that the availability of vaccines varies considerably between Member States of the EU. This will be a source of conflicts, Commissioner, in the event of an attack, which we hope will not happen. I should like to ask you to comment again on that point.

The last point I wish to mention relates to an entirely different aspect of this issue. In our debates we should always take great care to distinguish between Islamic fundamentalists and Islam in general. That would contribute greatly to our political discussion.

 
  
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  Alexander Stubb (PPE-DE). Mr President, I wish to begin with a personal remark addressed to Commissioner Frattini. I should like to thank him for his work, as the Foreign Minister of Italy, in the Constitutional IGC during the second half of 2003. At that time I was a civil servant in the Finnish delegation. He did an excellent job, not least in communitarising justice and home affairs, and that is why I hope we will get this Constitution through.

I have five very brief points. Firstly, there is a very close balance between individual liberty and security and we have to be very careful when we deal with it in relation to terrorism. That is why I reject the initiative on retention of data and support the position of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

My second point is that the fight against terrorism is really an area where the European Union has value added; it is an area where the Member States cannot and will not be able to operate alone.

My third point is that it is also an area where action is demanded. If we look at any Eurobarometer opinion polls, we see that this is an area where the European Union can work quite well.

My fourth point is that this could also be our next success story, but it all depends on whether we are able to implement it. That is why I call upon the Commission to push very hard both for the Tampere Agenda and now The Hague Agenda and get the Member States to implement measures to continue the fight against terrorism.

My final and fifth point concerns the Constitution. Article 43 of the Constitution is a key article. It is the one that deals with solidarity. If one Member State is faced with a terrorist attack, all the other Member States are required to help out. That solidarity clause, though not yet implemented, worked rather well in the face of the Madrid attacks. I would really like the Member States and the Commission to stick to that principle.

 
  
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  Marek Maciej Siwiec (PSE).   (PL) I wish to address my remarks to Commissioner Frattini, who gave a very good introduction to this debate. His approach to the matter is entirely correct, but it has one fatal flaw. I refer to the fact that the preparations he outlined are for a war that has already taken place. What is needed above all else in the war against terrorism is imagination, and indeed great feats of imagination, because terrorists are certainly not lacking in the latter. I should like to give the Commissioner a few pointers on how to be more imaginative.

I would like him to answer the following questions. If a passenger on board an aeroplane were found to be suffering from an infectious disease, for example smallpox or any other disease, where would the aeroplane land? Have any airports in the Member States been designated for such purposes? What procedures are followed if a pathogen is found that is capable of human-to-human transmission? What procedures are followed if a pathogen is found that is not capable of human-to-human transmission? When asking these and similar questions, we must remember that this is a conflict of the future. Bioterrorism is a weapon that requires us to use our imagination. I am counting on the EU to play an organisational role in consolidating the efforts of states and nations.

The second and final point I should like to make is that the Members of this House have been very vocal in condemning terrorism during today’s debate. I wonder what name should be given to an institution that makes it technically possible for a television channel owned by a Middle Eastern terrorist organisation to broadcast. Can such an institution be said to support terrorism or not?

We must ask ourselves whether financial and media bodies are not in fact playing a background role and creating the conditions that make it possible for terrorism to spread, and indeed to spread rapidly. While all this is going on, Parliament is happy to sit back and condemn terrorism.

 
  
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  Timothy Kirkhope (PPE-DE). Mr President, terrorism threatens all of us. The United Kingdom has had to deal with the Irish Republican terrorism of Sinn Féin/IRA for over three decades and as they say themselves, they have not gone away, you know.

We need to be steadfast in the face of terrorism. Weakness and equivocation merely strengthen those who seek to undermine democracy. We also need clarity, however, on understanding the threat we face and the best measures to deal with that threat. For this reason we welcome the proposals to improve information-sharing between relevant authorities, which are foreseen under Mr Duquesne's report.

As we have seen, Member States cooperating on a bilateral basis, without being hamstrung by needlessly heavy institutional constraints, have produced results. Joint investigation teams, on which I had the honour of being rapporteur in the previous Parliament, have been working well in this area, as referred to in the Díez González report. Such flexible, targeted, measured and appropriate responses are good examples of what can be achieved. But we also need to be aware of the nature of the threat that we are dealing with. The IRA is different from ETA, which is different from al-Qa'ida, but they are all evil and must be faced down and eliminated. Being unclear helps no one and I simply do not understand why some in this House do not want the use of the term "fundamental Islamist organisations" to describe al-Qa'ida and their ilk.

Similarly, we also welcome the call, in the Borghezio report, to look at the question of those charities which are little more than front organisations for fund-raising for terrorism. It is deplorable that the Council has not seen fit to designate Hizbollah as a terrorist organisation.

But above all else, we need to work together, exchanging information, assisting each other to deal with these ongoing threats, the undoubted threats to our freedom and to our democracy.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Nikolaos Sifunakis (PSE).(EL) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, we all know that terrorism nowadays is a reality which we cannot, unfortunately, avoid.

From a marginal phenomenon in the 1970's which restricted itself for the most part to within the framework of a state and to specific objectives, it has, unfortunately, developed over recent years into attacks which leave a great many dead and use advanced technological means.

The cause of this rise is the perpetuation of unresolved political and social problems. The international community has failed to prove its unshaken intention to set peaceful cohabitation processes in motion in specific areas of conflict caused by religious, political and ethnic differences.

Terrorism revived where the organised international community, or a part of it, unilaterally endeavoured to impose solutions through violence, which resulted in the creation of new, more violent conflicts. We all know that violence does not only not stop violence, but also strengthens it.

As long as the Palestinian question, for example, remains unresolved, terrorism will spread, feeding the extremism which is in fact the basic cause of terrorism.

However, terrorism cannot be combated through judicial and policing measures alone. The integrated crisis management systems, the monitoring and computer processing of suspicious information, the fight against financing for terrorism, the effective exchange of information or the approval of a common definition for terrorism are preventive and repressive mechanisms. They do not get to the root of the evil.

The debate and vote today in the European Parliament on the eight reports which aim to combat it are important. Nonetheless, we all know that they are not enough. We are not in a position with such measures to make terrorism disappear. The final resolution of this scourge must be sought over and above coordinated preventive and repressive action by the Community. The solution lies in achieving conditions of world peace, equality and prosperity.

 
  
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  Charlotte Cederschiöld (PPE-DE). (SV) Mr President, Mr Frattini and Mr de Vries, I would firstly congratulate the rapporteurs on their improvements to the Council’s anti-terrorist proposals which are indeed designed to make the fight against terrorism more effective in a number of excellent ways. The balance between freedoms and rights must, however, be maintained and our democratic European system improved.

At present, a car almost has better rights than a human being, for a car can have financial legislation removed by the European Parliament and the EC Court of Justice. These issues highlight the need for a new Constitution that will better enable us to combat crime and terrorism.

The issue of data storage splendidly illustrates the way in which the pillar system has come to the end of the road. We need a new treaty through which privacy can be protected and disproportionate measures and duties opposed. Data protection is needed in all legislation and not, as now, only in a part of it. Mrs Niebler offered a constructive explanation of the European Parliament’s criticisms in this area, and I agree with what she said. We have not seen any evidence of the need for the proposed measures in the area of data retention.

The Council has acted provocatively and decided to implement legislation opposed by the European Parliament. Such action weakens our democracy. That is not what we need right now. We need to move in the opposite direction. We need strengthened democracy and more vigorous action by the Council, and I hope that, in future, the Council will listen to the European Parliament to a much greater degree than it has done so far.

 
  
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  Proinsias De Rossa (PSE). Mr President, I noticed that Mr Kirkhope did not describe the IRA, and nor indeed did Mr Allister, as a fundamentalist Roman Catholic organisation, and they were quite right not do so. I think it would be a grave error to start labelling organisations here as one religion or another. What they all share is a desire to achieve political ends through anti-democratic efforts. That is the basic definition in my view of terrorism: using violence in an anti-democratic way to achieve a political objective.

I would remind Mr Kirkhope and others that the experience in Northern Ireland and everywhere else is that by labelling sections of society you actually increase alienation and you drive recruitment to the organisations that are engaged in terrorism.

We must respond to terrorism politically, economically and socially. Of course we have to defend our democratic way of life when it is threatened by violence, but we have to do so in a way that does not deny or reduce basic human rights, not only for society in general, but for those sections of society which are alienated from society at large. We must engage with all of our citizens and seek to integrate them. We must seek to ensure that they achieve in life what they set out to achieve, and not be alienated from us.

It is extremely important therefore that the measures we are proposing here today are proportionate and justified, and are effective, not only in dealing with terrorism, but also in seeking to ensure that terrorism cannot thrive. We must therefore do more than simply put security measures in place.

My final point is in relation to bioterrorism. Could I ask those who seek to heighten fears about bioterrorism to recognise the reality of terrorism. The preferred weapons of terrorism are a few ounces of semtex in a holdall, a motor car, semi-automatic rifles and handguns-look at the experience of terrorism anywhere in the world-these are the weapons that are in use. It is not sarin gas which creates the spectacular death and destruction which the terrorists need for the 6 o'clock news.

 
  
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  Piia-Noora Kauppi (PPE-DE). Mr President, I want to express my enthusiastic support for Mr Alvaro's report. It would be an act of folly if the proposed data retention scheme went through in its current form.

Cybercrime is a real plague, threatening to compromise the stability and security of our information systems. It needs to be targeted with meaningful controls. However, burdening telecommunications companies and Internet service providers with the cost of storing all data they process for one year is a poorly considered response, a shot in the dark.

Regardless of whether those transactions and communications go on record, the true criminal, one who is committed to avoiding easy detection, will know how to cover his tracks. In any case, given the volume of data that would have to be retained, particularly Internet data, it is unlikely that the comprehensive analysis of the data would ever be carried out in time to be of any use. We have seen clear indications that it was not for lack of data that US security agencies missed important clues in the lead up to the 11 September attacks, but rather that they lacked manpower to transcribe, translate and analyse the material. Some have argued that the cost of data retention should be borne by governments, not companies. Either way it is a waste of money.

Aside from the negative financial consequences, the system would infringe individual privacy, as many colleagues have agreed. The European Convention on Human Rights gives us clear guidelines, enforced by the European Court of Justice, on when this data can be stored. The proposed blanket scheme does not give any proper criteria that would meet the Convention on Human Rights.

I call upon my colleagues to follow Mr Alvaro in bringing this proposal to a swift and complete end. Elsewhere, terrorism proposals have been in line with proportionality, but not in Mr Alvaro’s report.

 
  
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  Lasse Lehtinen (PSE). (FI) Mr President, I wish to focus attention on one detail which is often forgotten when terrorism is being spoken about. Terrorists finance their activity by traditional means, and with conventional crimes. That is why normal police work is also important in the fight against terrorism.

Traditional police work is still faltering at European level. Europol has not become an authority that operates throughout the entire membership area, which its name implies. It is still an agency without proper resources or effective authority. National police forces keep information from the authorities in other countries with the result that there is still no genuine trust between Member States.

Exchange of information and increased levels of trust would also boost transparency, which is what has been called for in this debate. A competent Europol cannot emerge in the current climate. That, however, is what is needed to safeguard other forms of European cooperation.

 
  
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  John Bowis (PPE-DE). Mr President, I want to speak specifically about the oral question from the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, which concerns bioterrorism. With the anthrax incidents in America, the attacks on the Japanese underground and the chemical attacks on the Kurds, we know that we are vulnerable if we do not take precautions against such bioterrorism.

In 2004, the United States and the European Union agreed to take constructive joint steps to improve our capabilities in this regard. The Americans made a start with Project BioShield, and we want to know what the European Union is doing.

In February, the Worldwide Security Conference said that Europe was woefully unprepared for terrorist attacks. In 2001, Europe began to take steps to make sure that it was prepared. Its aims were to set up a mechanism for information exchange, to develop an EU-wide system for the detection, identification and diagnosis of chemical agents, to build up a stock of medicines and vaccinations, to establish a database of healthcare specialists and to provide guidance for health authorities on how to respond and how to liaise with international bodies. But so far, not so good, because, as far as surveillance is concerned, we have established an early-warning system to detect airborne chemical agents, but its usefulness is limited, since it only operates for certain substances and would not guard against the contamination of water or food supplies. We have no EU-wide stock of vaccines, and in most countries our quarantine laws are outdated.

The European Union has also established the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control to, amongst other things, ‘defend Europe against bioterrorism’. It is crucial for the centre to be enhanced and made effective. The current stories about budget cuts for the centre are not acceptable and I hope that a strong message will be sent to the Commission and the Council.

 
  
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  Luís Queiró (PPE-DE).(PT) Mr President, Commissioner, this debate illustrates that Parliament is aware of the serious threat posed by terrorism and is determined to take strong action to combat it. I therefore congratulate the rapporteurs.

There is a threat to our society, to our way of life, to our freedom, and we will only combat that threat if there is full cooperation at both European and international levels, and if we have a coherent policy rather than a mere list of initiatives, as both the Commissioner and Mr Oreja have both rightly pointed out. On the other hand, those who favour a strategy whereby we pretend that we are not targets are fooling themselves, and are doing so on two counts.

Firstly, because that attitude feeds into the very essence of terrorism, namely that by instilling fear, it prevents us from living our lives, and secondly because it is only one way of affording us practical protection from a violent and very real threat. Yet whilst we know about the danger and wish to take action, we are also aware that much remains to be done. Such is the case with bioterrorism, which was referred to a moment ago and which now represents a danger that we must learn to deal with and that we are still clearly ill-prepared to address.

These weapons are inexpensive, small, easy to get hold of and have an enormous capacity for destruction, quite apart from the fact that merely simulating the use of such weapons is enough to cause widespread panic. Europe must therefore respond to the various requirements, be it via the Member States or by means of specific Community programmes. Stocks of medicines and vaccines must be kept, detection systems and rapid early warning systems must be improved, civil protection mechanisms such as national emergency plans must be stepped up, and a great deal of information must be made available.

Furthermore, these are the concerns that the Commission has also expressed. It must not be forgotten, however, that the EU has made undertakings and it is now time to turn plans into action, and in the context of our international obligations, especially those taken on by the United States in the field of combating bioterrorism, which are being developed on the other side of the Atlantic in the form of Project BioShield.

I shall conclude, Mr President, by saying that terrorism, and bioterrorism in particular, cuts across borders. The fight against it must also, therefore, cut across borders.

 
  
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  Geoffrey Van Orden (PPE-DE). Mr President, in many of our countries terrorist organisations continue to recruit, train, raise funds, gather information and, indeed, carry out acts of terrorism. On another level, there are still those who aim to inflict mass destruction on our democracies. The battle against these organisations is a continuous one and it is right that this should not be in the public gaze. It is our duty as politicians to ensure that our police, security and intelligence services are given every possible means and support for their difficult and often dangerous work, with proper safeguards for the liberties of our law-abiding citizens.

It is also our duty to be single-minded in our condemnation of terrorism. Too often there are those who seek to apologise for or justify terrorism and abuse the human rights, civil liberties or anti-discrimination arguments in order to provide protection or legitimacy for terrorists whose causes they happen to favour.

Our own governments send out confusing signals when they are seen to deal and compromise with terrorists and even sacrifice the reputation of our security forces and individual officers in order to ingratiate themselves with organisations such as the Provisional IRA in the United Kingdom.

The so-called Tamil Tigers – the LTTE – continue to raise funds for their activities in the United Kingdom and in other European countries. Hizbollah, a terrorist group estimated to have been involved in 80% of the terrorist attacks against Israel, still does not feature on the EU list of proscribed organisations.

It is right that there should be fresh measures in our counter-terrorist inventory in order to deal with an ever-changing threat and that these measures should be part of a seamless strategy. However, unless we are prepared to fight the terrorists politically and with genuine resolve, then the practical measures will come to nothing.

In the United Kingdom we have highly professional and experienced security services, but their efforts are undermined by a failure on the part of government to take the most basic steps. In a report last month on the functioning of terrorist legislation in the UK, Lord Carlisle said that in some ports there was effectively no security regarding incomers.

First of all, we need to get it right in our own countries. The EU should be involved only where there is some genuine, proven added value and not as a means of extending the competence of EU institutions into yet more areas of activity.

 
  
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  Herbert Reul (PPE-DE). (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, terrorism constitutes an extremely grave danger. That is also the reason why we are dealing with it today and why we have no fewer than seven reports on the subject before us. It is a problem that can only be solved jointly, together with the various governments in Europe.

During this debate, the thought frequently crossed my mind that one or other of the referenda in France and the Netherlands might have had a different outcome if some voters had been more aware of the problems that concern us, if it could have been made clear that such problems are simply impossible to solve unless Europe acts as one.

Perhaps the seven different reports and the numerous models are also an indication that we must focus on the essentials if we want people to understand this need for joint action and to consent to the pursuit of this approach. It is not a matter of forever producing new proposals and new programmes – and thereby raising people’s hopes too – but rather of ensuring that people take note that what we are doing to combat terrorism is bearing fruit, that the EU’s Counter-Terrorism Coordinator is not only a public authority but is also working successfully with the Commission in the quest for greater efficiency, that Europol and Eurojust are becoming effective instruments and that democratic control is taking place.

It is absolutely imperative, as is stated in one of the reports, that we as a Parliament undertake to ensure that the instruments we introduce are subject to review during their lifetime. Have they had an effect? What effect have they had? Are any specific measures dispensable? Is it not perhaps more important to focus on essentials?

This brings me to the final point I feel it is important to make. How trust can be squandered and how a key objective can be badly pursued are aptly illustrated by what we have on the table today under the heading of data retention, which is now being dealt with for the nth time. This is a case where action is being taken for its own sake, where people are being mollified with measures that may ultimately do nothing to enhance their security. If that is so, it will not serve to persuade the public that Europe is important and beneficial and to make them accept the results of our work. I should not like to be held responsible for the public perception of the European Union. For the fifth or sixth time, I say that responsibility for this lies with the national governments, whose outburst of hyperactivity is designed to salve their consciences without actually achieving anything in terms of greater effectiveness.

 
  
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  Nicolas Schmit, President-in-Office of the Council. (FR) Mr President, I would first like to thank the seven rapporteurs for their exemplary work, which clearly shows that an all-embracing approach needs to be adopted towards the fight against terrorism, an approach covering many fields. I believe that these seven reports also demonstrate that Parliament attaches great importance to this issue of the fight against terrorism.

We are still feeling the enormous impact of the events of 11 September 2001 and the attack in Madrid on 11 March 2004. These cowardly attacks have affected all of us, both as European citizens and citizens of the world. They were attacks on democracy and on the values we stand for, and that is why the fight against terrorism needs to be uncompromising, but at the same time a fight for democracy. It would be wrong to defend democracy by undermining it. Many of the speeches we have heard this morning have called for terrorism to be combated more effectively and for there to be a clear commitment to the fight against terrorism and terrorist networks, while stressing that this fight should not threaten our democratic rights and civil liberties. We are faced with a constant balancing act here: we need to safeguard our rights and our freedoms while unremittingly confronting those who wish to put those same rights and freedoms at risk.

We are a long way from the Orwellian vision of an all-controlling state. However, we need to be vigilant if we wish to avoid any drift in that direction. Nor must we lose sight of the fact that terrorism exploits the full range of resources and new technologies and that it has become a global and globalised phenomenon, a network which makes use of the Internet just like any other globalised enterprise. If we are to stand up to this threat and fight this phenomenon, we can no longer afford to deprive ourselves of tools such as data retention.

Nevertheless, it is important to respect private life in this context. It is always a question of proportionality. I agree with the concept of protecting private life that has been raised. Having said that, we cannot forgo making use of certain technology if we are to remain effective in combating terrorism. Europe needs to lead the way here. It is noticeable that elsewhere there is a tendency not to take this protection of private life and individual rights seriously. Europe must show that the war on terror and respect for our rights can go hand in hand, without the effectiveness of that war being sacrificed or weakened.

I have also paid heed to the criticisms aired about the European Union as regards coordination and exchanges of information. Since the occurrence of these events, and in particular the attack in Madrid, there has been a great improvement in coordination, particularly thanks to Mr de Vries, who has been given a special remit to coordinate all the activities of the European Union and its Member States in the fight against terrorism. I would like to thank him for his work and his commitment in this area.

I also noticed that some people are concerned that Europe is not prepared for other kinds of threat, even more terrible than those involved in the two attacks I have already mentioned. There is bio-terrorism for example, a threat that is hard for us to grasp or imagine. It is possible, however, and it is a threat that cannot just be brushed aside. For that reason, we need to be prepared to deal with it.

I would also like to take this opportunity to reply to Mr Florenz’s question. He touched upon this very issue of the threat of bio-terrorism and that of nuclear terrorism. It is clear that this type of terrorism, which includes chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear terrorism, represents a threat to peace and international security. We know that terrorist networks have shown a keen interest in such substances and weapons and that, if they were able to lay their hands on such weapons of mass destruction, they would be in a position to inflict damage on an unprecedented scale and undermine the democratic foundations of our societies.

That is why this threat of biological, nuclear and chemical terrorism deserves to be given increased attention by the European Union. Parallels have been drawn with US legislation in this field. There is no doubt that Europe has a lot to learn from the United States, particularly as regards setting up special teams, stockpiling vaccines, carrying out research and development work on medical countermeasures, and so on. Some similar initiatives have already been taken by the Member States, and the institutions of the European Union have already committed themselves to activities of this kind. Accordingly, the Union now has an early warning system for all kinds of terrorist attacks, for which a central point called Argus will be created within the Commission. The directive amending the directive on the Community code relating to medicinal products for human use now entitles the Member States temporarily to permit the distribution of authorised medicinal products in the case of an attack involving the spread of pathogens, toxins, chemical agents or nuclear radiation. Anti-CBRN training for medical staff is being implemented.

Information on civil defence capacity and blood banks is being exchanged as part of civil defence arrangements. Furthermore, wide-ranging research work is being carried out under the Sixth Framework Programme on Research and Technological Development to enable a better response to acts of this kind. The Council’s strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is intended to prevent terrorists from gaining access to such weapons, and it is a matter for regret that the New York conference did not reach agreement on a common text, given that one aspect of the non-proliferation conference was the threat of terrorism in these areas.

As part of another remit, in this case following on from the declaration on the fight against terrorism adopted by the European Council on 25 March 2004, on 2 December 2004 the Council and the Commission adopted the EU solidarity programme on the consequences of terrorist threats and attacks, which revised the CBRN programme and widened it to cover all forms of terrorism.

One of the fundamental principles of the EU strategy is that protection against the consequences of terrorist attacks is chiefly a matter for the Member States. Nevertheless, the declaration on solidarity against terrorism adopted by the European Council on 25 March 2004 confirms that the institutions of the EU and the Member States firmly intend to mobilise all the instruments at their disposal to assist a Member State on its territory at the request of its political authorities. In this respect, I feel bound to refer to the provision in the Constitution which strengthens the nature of solidarity, particularly in the case of terrorist attacks.

The CBRN programme, and its successor the solidarity programme, are multidisciplinary programmes involving political, technical, economic, diplomatic, military and legal resources. This is rather difficult, but there it is ...

In the context of the present solidarity programme, EU action against CBRN terrorism is based on six strategic objectives, which I would like briefly to mention.

Threat analysis and assessment: several analyses of these threats have been carried out by Europol and the EU’s Joint Situation Centre, SITCEN.

Prevention and reduction of vulnerability: legislative measures have been taken to improve compliance with international biosafety and biosecurity standards.

Detection of CBRN attacks: the Commission has taken steps to extend and coordinate the Community’s systems for detection, communication and information in connection with chemical and biological threats, as well as with human, animal and plant health.

Lastly, preparations to mitigate the impact of possible attacks: the Commission is assessing what capacity the Member States could make mutually available in terms of civil defence and as regards medical and pharmaceutical supplies. It is drawing up regulations for treating illnesses associated with these substances.

For its part, the Council has created a database of military resources, as well as capacity relevant to protecting civilians against terrorist attacks, including CBRN attacks. In the context of the European Security and Defence Policy aspects of the fight against terrorism, civil/military interoperability in the field of CBRN is in the process of being examined.

The Council is also carrying out work on an integrated crisis management system. International cooperation obviously has a very important part to play here: it broadly addresses the same objectives as the solidarity programme, that is to say the pooling of epidemiological information on cross-border transmission of contagious diseases, and cooperation on emergency planning, laboratory detection technology, non-proliferation, mutual assistance and response coordination. The United States is also taking part in this work. Another dialogue will be initiated at the appropriate time. We consider this international cooperation, particularly with the Americans, but also with all our other partners, to be extremely important in this context.

Before we proceed to the vote and before my colleague Vice-President Frattini takes the floor, let me just say this by way of conclusion: I believe that the European Union is engaged in a worldwide process of preparation for the fight against all forms of terrorism. The war on terror, as I said at the beginning, and as your reports have clearly demonstrated, requires a global approach. There is one issue that we particularly need to take to heart: we must prevent terrorist groups from recruiting within our own societies. In fact it is such recruitment within our societies, especially amongst rootless young people who are poorly integrated into our own societies, that represents the greatest terrorist threat. These young people to some extent represent a breeding ground for acts that are hard to imagine, acts which reflect a kind of despair. This means that our strategy for combating terrorism needs to include a social aspect, an aspect covering the integration and treatment of these groups, particularly young people, who come from Islamic countries. In this way we can win this battle here on our own territory within the European Union, and that is absolutely vital.

 
  
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  President. At this point I have the pleasure of welcoming our former colleague, Mr Gijs de Vries, whom I wish all the strength he needs for his great task. Welcome to the European Parliament, Mr de Vries.

 
  
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  Franco Frattini, Vice-President of the Commission. (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I certainly cannot respond in a few minutes to all of the important speeches made during a debate lasting approximately three hours.

I would just like to make some very quick observations. I believe that there is broad consensus on the fact that, in combating terrorism, we require measures at European level, actions linked in a comprehensive European strategy, and balanced measures, which are primarily focused on prevention, on cooperation – also at international level – and on respect for people’s fundamental rights, including, obviously and above all, the right to privacy, which is a point raised by many Members in this House.

There is a further principle that I believe must be highlighted, and that is that no one can be suspected of terrorism on the basis of ethnicity or religious belief, because that would genuinely mean the victory of terrorism, which relies on conflict between religions and civilisations. Whilst it is necessary, therefore, to understand the deep roots of terrorism, there must be no doubt, however, about the fact that terrorism can never be justified. We must know about the roots in order to eradicate them, but never to justify them. There is a profound distinction between those two concepts.

In addition, we must devote our full attention to the measures decided upon at European level, that is to say, the action plan. You are probably aware that many Member States have not yet implemented many measures set out in the action plan. Right now, I can only mention two positive examples, those of Denmark and Hungary, two Member States that have, in contrast, implemented them all. I believe that they can be held up as models to the other Member States of the European Union.

There is also a principle on which we are all agreed, and that is the solidarity principle. Firstly, solidarity among the Member States – and on this point I fully agree with the President-in-Office of the Council, Mr Schmit. I believe that we must essentially introduce the principle enacted in the Constitutional Treaty, which makes provision for mutual solidarity among the Member States when one of them is attacked by terrorists. Secondly, solidarity towards the victims of terrorism, which is another of the lines of action on which Europe will have to focus.

We have spoken at length about bioterrorism. In the first instance, the European Commission can press for the continuation and strengthening of the actions undertaken. It is making every effort to encourage the Member States to take all of the measures required for an appropriate level of preparedness in the event of a bioterrorist attack, and hopes to be able to rely on the full support of this House in persuading all of the Member States to act more incisively, by investing greater resources, because the threat of a bioterrorist attack cannot and must not find us unprepared. We will inform Parliament about all of the measures that we have undertaken, including the simulations of terrorist attacks and the international cooperation actions that we are conducting.

To conclude, Mr President, I believe that the most powerful weapon against terrorism is the united action of the institutions, the Commission, Parliament, the Council, and civil society. We have to explain to our citizens that it is only by means of the united action of the institutions and society that there can be a genuinely European response to the challenge of terrorists, which is a challenge faced by us all.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MR MOSCOVICI
Vice-President

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

We shall now proceed to the vote.

 
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