Fight against terrorism: MEPs to debate counter-terrorism strategies 

Je suis Bruxelles: Parliament's visitors centre in Brussels pays tribute to the victims of the attacks on 22 March  

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

The debate is set to start at 15.00 CET on Tuesday 12 April. Follow it live here.

Brussels attacks

The EU's justice ministers held an extraordinary summit two days after the attacks in Brussels. Afterwards Parliament Vice-President Sylvie Guillaume, a French member of the S&D group, said: "European citizens rightly expect concrete action from their governments and the EU to counter terrorism. This must cover every aspect of the threat, from prevention to protection and prosecution."

Anti-terrorism measures

The EU's counter-terrorism strategy was adopted shortly after the attacks in Madrid in 2004 and in London in 2005. The attacks in Paris in 2015 accelerated the development of new measures. Member states need to work together more with each other and countries outside the EU, MEPs stressed during a debate following the Paris attacks

Parliament is currently working on two proposals presented by the European Commission at the end of last year: a directive on combatting terrorism that would criminalise preparatory acts such as travelling for this purpose, and a directive on gun control aimed at updating existing rules.

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An estimated 5,000 Europeans have joined terrorist organisations in Iraq and Syria and returning foreign fighters pose a threat to security. Parliament adopted last November a resolution on the prevention of radicalisation and recruitment of Europeans. The text proposes ways to tackle extremism online, in prison and through education. For example, MEPs propose to segregate radicalised inmates in prisons and ask for greater transparency on external financial flows.

Last December Parliament and Council reached an agreement on an Passenger Name Record (PNR) directive, a measure requiring more systematic collection, use and retention of airline passengers' personal data including travel dates and itineraries, contact details and payment information. MEPs vote on teh agreement on Thursday 14 April.

The draft legislation now needs to be endorsed in plenary. MEPs insist on the need to safeguard people's fundamental rights and of finding the right balance between privacy and safety. MEPs vote on plans concerning a reform of data protection rules on Thursday 14 April.

MEPs  will be asked to approve additional staff members for the Europol's counterterrorism centre in April while in May they will vote on a stronger mandate for Europol  in order to upgrade the agency's capabilities.

The fight against terrorism will stay on the political agenda: several other files are in the pipeline for the coming months, including reports on the European criminal records information system and on the Schengen borders code.

Check our top story to stay updated on Parliament's response to the terrorist threat.

This article was originally published on 5 April 2016.