AG highlights comments from the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dimitris Avramopoulos from a speech in 2015 regarding the European Agenda on Security,
In today’s world, what does security mean? Feeling safe in your own home, your own town or even your own country. In the last few months, Europe has felt the full force of terrorism, with the atrocities in Paris and previous attacks seen in Copenhagen. These events are surely enough to make anyone fearful in their own country.
The European Commission, however, are committed to ensuring people feel safe and confident wherever they may live or move within Europe. The European Agenda on Security has been put in place to instil this further.
In November 2015, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dimitris Avramopoulos spoke at a European Parliament Plenary Session about the way forward to prevent these kinds of events from happening again.
“In the aftermath of the events in Paris and the developments in Brussels we are all more than concerned. Our Society is abhorred by the terror extremists are trying to poison us with.
While we are all still in grief for the innocent people that lost their lives in Paris, we cannot allow this to turn into a general psychosis. We cannot allow fear to prevail. Because fear is also a threat.
Our only way forward is to act to prevent these actions from happening, to ensure the security of our citizens and our democracies.
The European Agenda on Security adopted in April this year (2015) set out the principles and key actions in this area. The Agenda is the reason we are not just reacting to events now.
We are implementing and accelerating the actions we had already in the pipeline to strengthen our resilience to terror.
An important example of one such action is the crucial new rules to control firearms that we have proposed. Let me, however, start with our work on prevention.
Our strongest partner and guarantor for the delivery of effective preventive measures is the Radicalisation Awareness Network. More than 2000 local practitioners with different backgrounds from all over Europe are working on treating the root causes of radicalisation.
Since 2011, the RAN has produced policy recommendations as well as practical guidance and training material to better prevent and address radicalisation, on schools and the prison and probation environment; on the foreign terrorist fighter phenomenon and on the development of counter-narratives etc.
The RAN has now been reinforced, with the Centre of Excellence up and running since 1st October 2015, which will support the RAN and help it expand its reach further, even to priority third countries such as the Middle East/North Africa and Western Balkan countries.
Many of the perpetrators of these vicious acts are EU citizens, born and bred in our societies.
This means that our work has to start right here. In our countries, in our societies, in our neighbourhoods. Let me refer to the abuse of the internet and social media for terrorist purposes:
I expect partnerships with the industry to lead to concrete outcomes in preventing and countering radicalisation leading to violent extremism.
The EU Internet Referral Unit established within Europol is instrumental in this regard.
It can build on the expertise of the European Cybercrime Centre within Europol – which has many years of experience in dealing with illegal content.
So we are by no means starting from zero.
In this context, I welcome the call to reinforce the mandate and resources of the European Cybercrime Centre to enable it to face these new challenges.
Our inter-institutional discussions to finalise the Europol reform will also touch on this.
The second priority is to support the development of effective counter-narratives:
There is progress in this area, through initiatives such as the Syria Strategic Communication Task Force, which supports EU countries to develop messages and carry out targeted communication campaigns.
The Commission is both financially and politically supporting the continuation of this project. The report touches on several other important elements that we are working on:
We are working to improve evidence and intelligence sharing across the EU, in full respect of fundamental rights.
We will look as a matter of priority into all available options to strengthen our tools against terrorist financing: this includes measures for freezing terrorist assets. And I will very soon propose a Directive to strengthen our framework on the criminalisation of terrorist offences, particularly the travel with terrorist purpose and terrorist financing.
This is how we will tackle the problem of Foreign Terrorist Fighters.
I will also report on the implementation of the Commission’s Communication on the prevention of radicalisation.
I hope that we will continue our constructive dialogue on matters of security and more specifically the pending proposals and envisaged initiatives.
We will need your full support and engagement in a difficult way ahead. Europe needs to be united and defend its values with the necessary rigour. You will know about the on-going work on different counter-terrorism measures.
Today our discussion focused on counter-radicalisation: It focused exactly in one of the root causes of the problem, and where the solution should come from as well.
This report will serve as a basis for a continued exchange of views about our prevention policy. In our collective effort to fight radicalisation, we must, by all means, avoid to stigmatise any community, ethnicity, or origin – whether they are Muslims, refugees or migrants.
As I said, and as many of you repeated as well, almost all perpetrators of the last attacks on European soil were homegrown. And religion, any religion, has nothing to do with their acts.
Radicalism has. Hate has.
Relating terrorism with migration is steering up hatred and leads to a vicious cycle. I am proud to participate in a discussion in a Parliament where Members from all the democratic spectrum defend our values of respect, of tolerance and of acceptance.
That is why I once again welcome Ms Dati’s report and this occasion.
I would also like to praise Mr Kirkhope’s intervention, I hope that common sense will prevail in our working together to face a common threat.
And for this we have different means that the Commission is working for months to put at the disposal of Member States:
- Exchange of information;
- Closer cooperation among Law Enforcement Authorities and Agencies;
- Stronger legal framework against terrorism and detection of terrorist threats;
- Effective management of the external borders;
- Stricter rules on firearms;
- Targeted cooperation with key third countries.
But the basis of an effective response is addressing its roots, and that is the central subject of today’s debate: countering radicalisation.
Both in the real world and the virtual world. Both by legislation and by schemes of cooperation with the private sector. Both at the local level and with the exchange of best practices among the Member States.”