Counterterrorism Agenda of the EU: Part I

This document produced by the European Commission represents the framework for counterterrorism across the bloc of the European Union. Today we will be covering the sections "Introduction," "Anticipate," and "Prevent" (p. 1 - 10). Click here for the full document:


"The European Union is a unique area of freedom, security and justice, where every person must be able to trust that their freedom and security are guaranteed and well protected. Democracy, rule of law, respect for fundamental rights in particular the right to privacy, freedom of expression, freedom of religion and the respect for diversity are the foundation of our Union. The recent spate of attacks on European soil have served as a sharp reminder that terrorism remains a real and present danger. As this threat evolves, so too must our cooperation to counter it. The transnational nature of terrorist networks requires a strong collective approach at EU level, one that safeguards and upholds our pluralistic society, our common values and our European way of life. Citizens have the right to feel safe in their own homes and streets, as well as on the internet. The EU has a key role to play in helping to deliver that security. This is all the more acute given that the EU remains on high terrorist alert. The jihadist threat from or inspired by Daesh, al-Qaeda and their affiliates persists. Threats from violent right and left-wing extremists are on the rise. The nature of attacks is also shifting. The vast majority of recent attacks were carried out by individuals acting alone – often with limited preparation and easily available weaponry – targeting densely crowded or highly symbolic spaces. While single actor attacks are likely to remain prevalent, more sophisticated attacks cannot be excluded. The EU also needs to be prepared for threats from new and emerging technologies, such as malicious use of drones, artificial intelligence and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear material. The spread of radical ideologies and of terrorist guidance material accelerates through the use of online propaganda, with the use of social media often becoming an integral part of the attack itself. Over the last two decades, European cooperation on counter-terrorism has advanced steadily and enhanced the capacity of Member States to ensure the security of their citizens. We have extensive information-sharing networks, supported by increasingly interoperable EU databases as well as enhanced police and judicial cooperation. This helps us connect the dots across borders. We have also equipped ourselves with powerful tools to deny terrorists the means to act, such as in the areas of firearms, explosives precursors, terrorism financing and criminalising travel for terrorist purposes. The state of play of these efforts is set out in the Security Union progress report. However, we need to redouble our collective work, in particular to counter the draw of extremist ideologies and better protect the public spaces targeted by terrorists. We must also overcome the false dichotomy between online and off, bringing the respective security environments in line, and equipping law enforcement and judicial authorities with the means to enforce the law in both. This new Counter-Terrorism Agenda, announced in the EU’s Security Union Strategy, brings together existing and new strands of work in a joined-up approach to combatting terrorism. This approach will be brought forward in coordination with the Member States, while working with the European Parliament and the Council, and also by engaging society as a whole: citizens, communities, faith groups, civil society, researchers, businesses and private partners. The Agenda builds on what has been achieved over the past years and sets out a series of actions to be taken forward at national, EU and international level across four fronts: Firstly, we need to be able to better anticipate existing and emerging threats in Europe. Information sharing and a culture of cooperation that is multi-disciplinary and multi-level remain key for a solid threat assessment that can form the basis of a future-proof counter- terrorism policy. Second, we need to work to prevent attacks from occurring, by addressing and better countering radicalisation and extremist ideologies before they take root, making clear that respect for the European way of life, its democratic values and all it represents is not optional. This Agenda sets out ways of supporting local actors and building more resilient communities as a matter of priority, in close coordination with Member States, taking into account that some attacks have also been carried out by Europeans, raised within our societies, who were radicalised without ever having visited a conflict zone. Third, to effectively protect Europeans, we need to continue to reduce vulnerabilities, be it in public spaces or for the critical infrastructures that are essential for the functioning of our societies and economy. It is essential to modernise the management of the EU’s external borders through new and upgraded large-scale EU information systems, with reinforced support by Frontex and eu-LISA, and ensure systematic checks at the EU’s external borders. This is necessary to close what would otherwise be a security gap when it comes to returning foreign terrorist fighters. Fourth, to respond to attacks when they do occur, we need to make the most of the operational support EU Agencies, such as Europol and Eurojust, can provide, as well as ensure we have the right legal framework to bring perpetrators to justice and to guarantee that victims get the support and protection they need. Underpinning this approach is the need to continue to place a relentless emphasis on implementation and enforcement. To reap the benefits of EU-wide harmonisation and cooperation, it is of fundamental importance that there are no gaps or delays in how we apply key instruments, such as the Directive on combating terrorism, the Firearms Directive and legal framework on combating money laundering and terrorist financing. Finally, international engagement across all four pillars of this Agenda, facilitating cooperation and promoting capacity building, is essential to improve security inside the EU."

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