EU’s response to terrorism: latest measures and strategies

Source: Vision of Humanity

By Omaima Boumrit

In recent years, terrorism has become an increasing concern for many countries, including those in Europe. The European Parliament has been actively involved in combating terrorism through legislative and policy measures aimed at preventing and responding to terrorist attacks. Many measures have been adopted by the EU and this highlights the importance of addressing the root causes of terrorism, developing partnerships with other countries and international organizations, and constantly reviewing and updating measures to address new threats and challenges. Despite these measures, the threat of terrorism remains a significant challenge for the EU and the international community, emphasizing the need for a dynamic response to this ongoing threat. 

Adopted measures

Following a series of attacks since 2015, the European Union has adopted various measures to stop terrorism. In recent years, Europe has faced an increase in terrorist attacks mainly occured in major cities such as Paris, London, and Brussels with the loss of innocent lives and devastating consequences for families and communities. 

Although responsibility for combating crime and safeguarding security primarily lies with the member states, recent years terrorist attacks have shown that this is a common responsibility which they must face together. The EU contributes to the protection of its citizens by acting as the main forum for cooperation and coordination among member states. These measures include enhancing the exchange of information between member states, strengthening border controls, and increasing cooperation with other countries. 

One of the key measures adopted by the European Parliament is the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) system, which is a system that collects and analyzes data from air passenger records, including names, travel dates, itinerary, and payment information. This information can be used to identify potential terrorists or individuals involved in other criminal activities

Another important measure is the establishment of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency: this agency is responsible for managing the external borders of the EU and ensuring that they are secure and properly monitored. The agency was established in 2016 and since then played a crucial role in enhancing border security across the EU. It has also helped to address the issue of irregular migration, which has been linked to the rise of terrorism. 

In addition to these measures, the European Parliament has also strengthened the EU’s legal framework for combating terrorism. This includes the adoption of the EU Directive on combating terrorism, which sets out minimum rules for defining and punishing terrorist offenses across the EU. The directive also includes provisions for the prevention of radicalization and the protection of victims of terrorism. It recognizes the importance of addressing the root causes of terrorism, such as social exclusion, discrimination, and marginalization. 

Financing terrorism and sanctions 

Terrorist financing poses a serious threat to the integrity of the EU economy, financial system, and security. Europol has estimated that around 1% of the EU’s annual Gross Domestic Product is detected as being involved in suspect financial activity. In July 2019, there were cases of banks in the EU allowing criminals to launder money. As a result, the EU looked at its rules to stop money laundering and financing terrorism and decided that changes were needed. The EU Security Union Strategy for 2020-2025 said it was important to improve these rules to keep Europeans safe from terrorism and crime. 

So, the European Parliament started to adopt measures aimed at preventing terrorism financing, which allows the quick and effective freezing of assets belonging to individuals or organizations suspected of involvement in terrorism. 

On February 24th, 2023, the Council updated the so-called EU list of terrorists, which establishes the persons, groups and entities subject to restrictive measures intended to combat terrorism. The EU has also stopped 13 people and 21 groups and organizations from accessing their money and other financial assets and has also made it against the law for EU businesses to give them money or resources. This sanction regime is different from the EU rules that follow United Nations Security Council decisions about Al Qaeda and ISIL/Da’esh. The EU can also independently punish people and groups associated with these organizations. 

The EU and other institutions 

Another important aspect of the EU’s response to terrorism is its cooperation with other countries and international organizations. The EU has developed partnerships with a range of countries and organizations, including the United Nations, NATO, and the African Union. These partnerships have been crucial in sharing information, coordinating responses, and developing joint strategies for combating terrorism. However, the threat of terrorism remains a significant challenge for the EU and the wider international community. Terrorist groups continue to evolve and adapt, using new tactics and technologies to carry out attacks and evade detection.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also created new challenges for the EU’s response to terrorism. In 2020, terrorist organizations attempted to take advantage of the global pandemic to spread hate propaganda and exacerbate mistrust in public institutions. The New EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2021, outlines the features, facts, figures and trends concerning terrorist attacks and arrests in the European Union in 2020. 

It is important to underline that the EU’s response to terrorism must remain dynamic and adaptable, constantly reviewing and updating its measures to address new threats and challenges.

Terrorism remains a significant threat to the EU and the international community. 

The European Parliament has adopted a range of measures aimed at combating terrorism and protecting citizens and has also strengthened its legal framework introducing measures to prevent terrorism financing and developed partnerships with a range of countries and international organizations. Overall, the European Parliament has played a crucial role in promoting the safety and security of its citizens. 

As terrorism is a complex issue, governments and organizations should work together with the EU.