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Procedure : 2007/2608(RSP)
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Document selected : B6-0514/2007

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PV 10/12/2007 - 13

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PV 12/12/2007 - 3.13
CRE 12/12/2007 - 3.13
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Texts adopted
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Wednesday, 12 December 2007 - Strasbourg
Fight against terrorism

European Parliament resolution of 12 December 2007 on the fight against terrorism

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Presidency conclusions of the Brussels European Council of 25 and 26 March 2004, in particular the European Council Declaration of 25 March 2004 on combating terrorism, which included a solidarity clause,

–   having regard to the Report of the High-Level Group of the 'Alliance of Civilisations' presented to the UN Secretary-General on 13 November 2006,

–   having regard to its resolution of 14 February 2007 on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners(1),

–   having regard to Rule 108(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas:

   the terrorist threat not only has a direct impact on the security of citizens of the countries that are victims of terrorist attacks, but also has the potential to undermine the security of everyone else; for this reason, a global response is required in order to meet the need for security, giving law enforcement authorities the necessary resources and legal framework while fully respecting fundamental rights, and also ensuring adequate data protection,
   terrorism is a common threat to democracy, the rule of law and human rights, as well as the safety of Union citizens and should therefore be firmly resisted, while the most scrupulous respect should, at the same time, be shown for fundamental rights,
   by virtue of Articles 2 and 6 of the EU Treaty, the Union should be an area of freedom, security and justice according with the principles underlying the Union of democracy, the rule of law and protection of fundamental rights, and by virtue of Article 29 of that Treaty 'the Union's objective shall be to provide citizens with a high level of safety', in particular by preventing and combating terrorism,
   the EU firmly intends to assess the achievements, limits and prospects of the Union's anti-terrorism policy after the attacks of 11 September 2001, 11 March 2004 and 7 July 2005, at a time when the terrorist threat has acquired a global dimension and accordingly calls for a response at the same level,
   the Union is committed to the fight against terrorism in all its dimensions, whether its origin lies or its activities occur inside or beyond its borders, while acting within the limits defined by the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights, and in the fight against terror in particular there must be no areas in which fundamental rights are not respected,
   any limitation on fundamental rights and freedoms in the fight against terrorism must be limited in time and scope, prescribed by law, subject to full democratic and judicial scrutiny, and be necessary and proportionate in a democratic society,
   terrorism can be eradicated, and the threat of terrorism can be reduced by tackling its causes,

B.   regretting that the EU institutions have responded to the exceptional pressures resulting from terrorist attacks by adopting acts that have not been thoroughly discussed with Parliament and with national parliaments and that have been in violation of the rights to a fair trial, to data protection or to access to the documents of the EU institutions connected with the fight against terrorism, and as a consequence have been rightly annulled by the Court of Justice of the European Communities,

C.   having very particular regard for the victims of terrorism and their agonising experience and for the need to give priority to upholding their rights and to measures seeking to afford them protection and recognition, ever bearing in mind that the terrorists begin to lose ground when their victims speak out and society gives them a hearing,

D.  D concerned about the far-reaching consequences of using large-scale immigration and asylum databases at the EU level in the fight against terrorism and in particular about giving access to the Eurodac database to Member States' police and law enforcement authorities as well as Europol in the course of their duties in relation to the prevention, detection and investigation of terrorist offences and other serious criminal offences, as called for in the conclusions of the Justice and Home Affairs Council of 12 and 13 June 2007,

E.   conscious, therefore, that the fight against terrorism is a very complex matter and requires, now more than ever, a multi-level and multi-disciplinary strategy as planned at international level:-

   by the UN Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted on 8 September 2006(2) and the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism concluded on 16 May 2005(3),
   by the European Council when it adopted a Counter-Terrorism Strategy(4) in December 2005, unfortunately without any substantial involvement by Parliament and by national parliaments,
   and by the Commission which presented its counter-terrorism package on 6 November 2007,

F.  F considering that each one of the aspects of the EU strategy – prevention, protection, pursuit, response – requires the full involvement of Parliament and of national parliaments, which should be fully and regularly informed through evaluations carried out by the Commission every two years and enabled to verify the real effectiveness of the measures taken, including the impact on fundamental rights, whether the initial objectives have been implemented and the actual cost of the initiatives,

G.   regretting that there is a substantial lack of transparency, democratic oversight, accountability and judicial review, and noting that the EU institutions and agencies such as Europol and Eurojust are just starting to collect the information required for their activities in a more structured way,

H.   dismayed at the refusal of some governments of the Member States and the Council to answer to allegations of abuse of powers under the pretext of counter-terrorism, in particular in the case of CIA extraordinary renditions and 'black sites',

I.   concerned that extreme interrogation techniques have been applied on terror suspects,

J.   taking the view that cross-border cooperation of intelligence and security services must be subject to more thorough and systematic scrutiny,

K.   deeply concerned at the function creep of many measures introduced under the counter-terrorism label, but which in practice are used for a wide range of purposes,

L.   emphasising the need to pay considerably more attention in the EU counter-terrorism strategy to the causes of terrorism and the EU's role therein,

M.   recalling that the Treaty of Lisbon should also make it possible to frame in a transparent, simpler and accountable way the Union's role in the fight against terrorism, to strengthen solidarity between the Member States and to associate Parliament and national parliaments in the evaluation of AFSJ-related policies, while regretting that for these policies there will be no full judicial control at EU level for legislation adopted prior to the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon,

1.  Warmly welcomes the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon, and calls on the Member States to ratify it so as to make the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union binding, which is a necessary complement to the EU strategy for combating terrorism;

As far as 'prevention' is concerned:

2.  Considers that the EU should support actions at EU, national and local level aimed at preventing violent radicalisation, by fostering the integration of people through intercultural dialogue and the promotion of democracy and human rights as the universal values underpinning our society, avoiding social exclusion; also considers it necessary to combat violent radicalisation, including incitement to commit violent acts;

3.  Demands that there be, at long last, a Europe-wide ban on any apology for terrorism;

4.  Believes, further, that an important element in preventing terrorism is an EU and Member State development aid policy that also functions as a security policy; considers that promoting civil society and helping to achieve social peace and prosperity are a suitable means of showing people their opportunities and restricting the spread of fundamentalist ideologies; believes, therefore, that the development of education, health and social security systems in countries often identified as the origin of terrorist activities should be made a much greater priority than before in development aid policy;

5.  Deems, in this respect, that the EU should favour best practices and their dissemination within the EU, and notes that Parliament will shortly be making recommendations in this area, while taking of account the contributions of the Council and the Commission;

6.  Believes that cases such as the US Supreme Court's dismissal of Khalid Al-Masri torture appeal tend to reinforce the impression, particularly among Muslim minorities in the EU, that anti-terror measures create double standards; calls, therefore, on the EU to engage more forcefully in the struggle to uphold the rule of law within the EU and in the international context, in particular by defending its own citizens in prosecutions in third countries in which citizens of Muslim descent are disproportionately concerned;

7.  Considers that the prevention of terrorism requires an EU foreign policy that promotes democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights both in the EU's neighbourhood and beyond;

8.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to launch an initiative at the European and international levels for the resettlement of Guantánamo prisoners from third states who cannot be returned to their country of origin because they risk being persecuted or tortured;

9.  Reaffirms the importance of police and judicial cooperation at EU level, especially as far as exchanges of information and analysis are concerned, and calls on the Member States to reinforce their cooperation, with the coordination and support of Europol;

10.  Demands that Europol's role be strengthened and reaffirms that, in the fight against terrorism, Europol needs its own investigative powers; further demands in this connection that Europol set up its own task force and staff it with national experts;

11.  Considers that, in order to increase the EU's effectiveness in the fight against terrorism, the Commission and the Member States should put in place a permanent network of information exchange between EU anti-terrorist centres;

12.  Reiterates the importance of sharing intelligence information, both at EU level and among Member States' services, and reaffirms the need for uniform rules at EU level to ensure the necessary democratic and parliamentary control and scrutiny;

As far as 'protection' is concerned:

13.  Considers that, in order to protect citizens, fundamental rights, human rights, democracy, and infrastructure and to reduce the EU's vulnerability to attack, including through improved security of borders, transport and critical infrastructure, it is essential that the EU:

  a) establish, with the cooperation of the Member States, an EU-wide
   crisis-alert and -detection system, based also on national protection schemes operational seven days a week and round-the-clock for disasters caused by nature or human activity,
   map of critical and strategic infrastructures and networks, taking into account the future Council Directive on the identification and designation of European Critical Infrastructure and the assessment of the need to improve their protection,
   effective solidarity mechanism between Member States which can give immediate access to rare resources available at national level (so-called 'assets' such as vaccines or sophisticated technologies);
   b) render the SIS II and VIS databases fully operational, including provisions regarding the access of law enforcement authorities; points out that these databases have no primary law enforcement purpose and that access for law enforcement purposes has thus been limited to specific cases, when necessary and proportionate in a democratic society; considers that mass collection of personal data and data processing in order to create profiles through data-mining techniques, as envisaged in the recent proposal for a directive on an EU-PNR system, are not allowed at EU level
   c) coordinate better, through the Member States, the work of its intelligence services to ensure that existing obstacles to the exchange of information, such as a lack of trust, are swiftly removed, as individual 'information islands' and the sealing off of information by national intelligence services run counter to the Community approach to fighting terrorism;
   d) rationalise and improve the clarity, transparency and applicability of its counter-terrorism legislation;

14.  Emphasises that any monitoring of the internet in order to prevent terrorist attacks should under no circumstances entail restrictions on free speech that is not intended to incite terrorist acts and cannot reasonably in itself lead to such acts;

15.  Reminds the Council of its promises to Parliament, and calls on it finally to adopt the framework decision on the protection of personal data processed within the framework of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters providing for an adequate level of data protection, and the framework decision on certain procedural rights in criminal proceedings throughout the EU before introducing any further measures relating to the fight against terrorism;

16.  Recalls that the primary purpose of Eurodac as a first pillar database is to facilitate the application of the Dublin II Regulation to establish the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application, and that any proposal to transform it into a security measure and criminal investigation tool would be unlikely to be legal under EU or international law;

17.  Notes with concern that access by law enforcement authorities and Europol to the Eurodac database could lead to stigmatisation of, discrimination against, and possible danger to, asylum seekers;

18.  Calls on its Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to organise, in cooperation with the national parliaments, a hearing before June 2008 on measures proposed and adopted at EU level in the fight against terrorism and on their application and effectiveness;

19.  Considers that any form of 'profiling' in counter-terrorism measures is unacceptable; regards it as unacceptable to pursue an EU-PNR system without a complete evaluation of the EU-US and EU-Canada PNR agreements, in particular their impact on reducing the threat and increasing security as well as their impact on privacy and civil liberties;

20.  Expresses concern that access by law enforcement authorities and Europol to the Eurodac database could diminish the effectiveness of the principal purpose of the Eurodac database;

As far as 'pursuit' is concerned:

21.  Urges the Member States to cease to hesitate and enhance judicial and police cooperation at EU level in the fight against terrorism; asks to be informed without delay of the effectiveness of current cooperation and what results have emerged from the mutual evaluation mechanism between the Member States and the EU institutions;

22.  Emphasises the need to strengthen the coordination and operational role of Eurojust and Europol, that are essential tools for real and effective cooperation in prosecution and pursuit at EU level; at the same time reaffirming the need to ensure full democratic control at EU level;

23.  Firmly reiterates the urgent need to adopt a framework decision on data protection in the third pillar, ensuring a high level of safeguards for EU citizens, which is now lacking at EU level;

24.  Therefore asks,

   a) the Commission to refer to Parliament before the end of the year the answers obtained to its questionnaires on the implementation at national level of the counter-terrorism legislation, in particular the framework decision on terrorism and on the European arrest warrant, and the directive on data retention, and its impact on fundamental rights and on any differences in implementation in the Member States, along with an assessment and any proposals with regard to how a better implementation and use of existing legislation on the fight against terror can be ensured;
   b) the Commission to inform Parliament whether all anti-terrorism acts adopted have been implemented by the Member States and, if this is not the case, to inform Parliament which countries are lagging behind, and for what reason;
   c) the Commission to carry out an overall evaluation of the consequences of the anti-terrorism legislation, by measuring the effectiveness of the legislation, and by investigating its positive and negative effects, both in terms of security and in terms of citizens' rights;
   d) the Commission to inform Parliament whether all the laws that infringe citizens' rights give citizens the possibility of correcting their data, of challenging the facts and of complaining about the proportionality of the measures;
   e) the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator to report to Parliament before June 2008 on the effectiveness of the measures taken by the Member States and by Europol and Eurojust; considers that it is also essential to examine what kind of measures could be best suited to cooperation between a limited number of Member States and what measures should be applied by all the Member States in conformity with the solidarity principle;
   f) the Council to act on Parliament's recommendations regarding the CIA rendition programme;
   g) the Commission and the Council to carry out an overview, which has been repeatedly requested by Parliament, of companies that are being forced by third countries (notably the US) to submit their customer data to the authorities;

25.  Asks the Council and the Commission to cooperate in establishing a real feedback mechanism regarding the effectiveness of European and national measures in this field by progressively defining neutral indicators in relation to the development of the terrorist threat to the EU (e.g. statistics on number of inquiries and judicial proceedings, analysis of possible regional crises, evidence of successful/unsuccessful cooperation, etc.) so as to provide Parliament and national parliaments with a clearer picture at least of the effectiveness and any shortcomings or positive features of public policies in these areas;

26.  Proposes that the Member States should concentrate their resources in the area of police cooperation and, instead of taking the technical approach favoured so far, stress the importance of individual and staff cooperation; considers, in this regard, that there should be a greater drive to encourage exchanges between national emergency services and to eliminate obstacles, e.g. as a priority, the removal of linguistic barriers through language courses; considers, moreover, that police training measures should be adapted to the realities of European society, so that, for example, teaching about all the different cultures composing the European reality should be included in such training in the future;

27.  Takes note of the adoption by the Commission of new measures concerning, in particular, an amendment to the framework decision on terrorism and a proposal for an EU-PNR system; expresses its desire to attentively examine these measures and reiterates its concerns on the proposal for EU-PNR system, especially concerning the necessity and proportionality of the proposed profiling scheme on which it seems to be based;

28.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to ensure more effective use of existing mechanisms for cross-border cooperation between Member States, such as the European arrest warrant;

29.  Reminds the Commission of the importance of evidence-based policy making; therefore calls on the Commission to ensure that all future counter-terrorism proposals are accompanied by a thorough impact assessment or evaluation which demonstrates the necessity and usefulness of the measures to be taken;

30.  Reaffirms the importance of cooperation with third countries in the prevention of and the fight against terrorism, and observes that the US is an essential partner in this field; considers that a common legal framework for police and judicial cooperation, with special emphasis on the protection of fundamental rights, especially of personal data, should be defined between the EU and the US, via an international agreement, ensuring appropriate democratic and parliamentary scrutiny at national and EU level;

31.  Is concerned at Member States" knee-jerk reaction to anti-terror legislation, in which the desire to send a political message often takes priority over serious and conscientious consideration of the boundaries of the possible and the useful, including the increasingly inadequate consideration of rule of law principles, such as the proportionality principle and the presumption of innocence;

As far as 'response' is concerned:

32.  Considers it to be of the utmost importance that, in the event of a terrorist attack, Member States should show an effective spirit of solidarity, by managing and minimising the consequences of the attack, in particular for EU countries which do not have sufficient human, financial or technological resources to manage the aftermath, coordinate the response and help victims;

33.  Recalls the importance of unity between all democratic forces in the fight against terrorism;

34.  Considers that a key element in the response to terrorist attacks should be to put in place the necessary, effective and proportionate instruments to support the overall fight against terrorism, and considers it equally important to protect all aspects of the rule of law, citizens' civil rights, judicial and legal safeguards for suspects, and democratic control and scrutiny over all legislation introduced, both at EU level and in relations with third countries;

35.  Urges the Commission to come forward with a proposal to ensure Parliamentary control over joint and coordinated intelligence activities at EU level;

As far as the 'roots' of terrorism are concerned:

36.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to draw up an action plan for spreading democracy throughout the world and strengthening economic and political cooperation with Islamic countries by

   a) supporting democracy movements,
   b) promoting student exchanges and other forms of education,
   c) funding media stations which spread democratic ideas and bring to light terrorist activities and those who support them;

37.  Calls on the Commission to define measures to ensure protection of and support for the victims of terrorism, including the promotion of exchanges of best practices and a uniform set of guarantees at EU level;

The need for stronger and more effective interparliamentary cooperation for the new counter-terrorism strategy:

38.  Considers that, immediately following the signature of the Treaty of Lisbon, Parliament and national parliaments should start a joint evaluation exercise of the European Counter Terrorism Strategy, in order to prepare a new form of 'high-level dialogue' in this sphere, associating citizens' representatives at EU and national levels;

Cooperation with the Commission and the Council

39.  Considers, bearing in mind that the Lisbon Treaty is expected to enter into force in 2009 and that the EU institutions should already in 2008 create the conditions for its entry into force, that any proposals which come under the codecision procedure and are not adopted before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, should be treated as 'quasi-codecision';

40.  Notes the new package of counter-terrorism legislative proposals comprising the Council framework decision on the use of Passenger Name Records (PNR) for law enforcement purposes, the directive on explosives and the evaluation report on the implementation of the framework decision on combating terrorism; and is determined to carry out an evidence-based assessment of the proposals;

41.  Believes that the EU anti-terrorism coordinator should play an important role in the Community's approach and wishes to clarify his responsibilities and structures of accountability;

42.  Expects a strategy for an EU anti-terror policy to be developed in cooperation with Parliament that not only displays an integrated approach and central theme but, above all, sets out distinct, short-, medium- and long-term measures;

o   o

43.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Council of Europe, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ C 287 E, 29.11.2007, p. 309.
(2) See
(3) See ratified by BG, DK, RO, SL, SK).
(4) See

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