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How is Europe fighting terrorism? Discover the European Parliament’s work to tackle the terror threat: Europol, gun controls, passenger name records and more.


Security patrol activity to prevent terrorism. Photo by Manu Sanchez on Unsplash        

Europe has experienced a series of terror attacks since 2015. What is the EU doing to fight terrorism? Who are the terrorists? What is the current situation?

Passport control illustration        
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All EU citizens and third country nationals entering or leaving the EU will be systematically checked against databases, e.g. of lost and stolen documents, under a regulation voted on Thursday. The new rules were agreed by Parliament’s negotiators and the Council of Ministers on 5 December 2016.

MEP Vicky Ford is confident Parliament's redrafted firearms directive will protect law-abiding hunters and museums while preventing terrorists access to guns.

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

As the EU looks to draw together actions to fight terrorism, MEPs and experts give their views on five of the key debates.

Parliament is working on a range of measures to crack down on terrorism. MEPs are due to vote on plans to make the preparation of terror attacks a criminal offence throughout the EU as well to impose checks on European citizens entering and leaving the EU. Some 5,000 Europeans already travelled to conflict zones to join terrorist groups and returning fighters pose a security risk. Watch our video to find out more about Parliament’s efforts to help Europe fight terrorism.

500 euros banknotes with a gun ©AP Images/European Union-EP        
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To stop money flowing to terrorists, EU countries should track suspicious transactions and charities, and share intelligence more proactively, urge MEPs.

Minute of silence in Parliament plenary chamber after the Paris attacks        

Nearly all European countries have been affected by terrorism in one form or another and tackling it has never been easy. The attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015 demonstrated once again the challenge of finding a rapid and effective response to those who would destroy us, while safeguarding our freedom and way of life.

LIBE committee        

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



Europol's new Headquarters on Eisenhowerlaan in The Hague        
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The EU police agency Europol will soon be able to step up efforts to fight terrorism, cybercrime and other criminal offences and respond faster to threats, thanks to new governance rules approved by Parliament on Wednesday. The new powers come with strong data protection safeguards and democratic oversight tools.

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

EP hearing on gun control ©AP Images/ European Union-EP        

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

"Je suis Bruxelles" at the display of Parliamentarium        

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

infographic illustration        

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

Europol: Assisting Member States in fighting international crime  ©AP Images/ European Union-EP        

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

Document check at Roszke border control in Hungary        

In the wake of the terrorists attacks in Paris on 13 November, the fight against terrorism remains at the top of the European Parliament's agenda. On Monday 30 November and Tuesday 1 December, the civil liberties committee discussed how the EU's strategy could be improved.

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Commemoration_ (1).jpg        

MEPs and Parliament staff sang the Marseillaise and held a minute of silence to commemorate the victims of last week’s terrorist acts in Paris during a short ceremony on 17 November in Parliament's plenary chamber in Brussels. “The attacks in Paris were an attack on our freedoms, an attack against our European values and our way of life, an attack against all of us," said EP President Martin Schulz. "In our grief, we Europeans stand side to side with the French people."

European Parliament plenary debate on recent terrorist attacks in Paris        
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“Political grandstanding” that equates refugees with terrorists only foments the hatred and disillusion that inspires those who join terrorist groups, argued many MEPs in Wednesday’s debate. Rather than allow Europe’s freedoms and tolerance to be eroded, EU countries must strive to strengthen security, by stepping up intelligence cooperation and data-sharing, and investing in the skills and technology needed to fight terrorism, MEPs urged.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German foreign minister, during the exchange of views on current political challenges with the European Parliament Foreign affairs committee        

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

Gilles de Kerchove        

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

Video with Rob Wainwright        

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

Double interview with Anna Elżbieta Fotyga and Claude Moraes        

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

European Parliament President Martin Schulz and MEPs from all the political parties together with EP staff and other european  citizens helded today one minute of silence in front of the European Parliament in Brussels in memory of the victims of Paris terrorism attack #JeSuisCharlie        

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


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