MEPs back tougher anti-terror legislation
Following a heightened security threat across Europe, MEPs have voted in favour of tougher laws tackling radicalisation.
MEPs have voted in favour of tougher laws to counter the radicalisation and recruitment of EU citizens by terrorist organisations.
The report, sponsored by Rachida Dati, a member of Parliament's centre-right EPP group, calls for a more proactive, harmonised approach to tackling radicalisation in Europe. It has a specific focus on the publishing and proliferation of illegal content on the internet.
While the fight against terrorism remains a core competency of member states, recent terrorist attacks carried out by European citizens combined with an estimated 5000 EU residents joining terror organisations in Syria and Iraq demonstrate the need for what Dati terms, "a truly European response."
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The non-binding report was passed with a significant majority by the European Parliament's civil liberties committee (LIBE), and will be voted on at the next Strasbourg plenary in November.
Charles Tannock, Parliament's foreign affairs committee opinion rapporteur on the bill, welcomed the report highlighting, "the clear need for coordination and cooperation as radicalisation and terrorism transcends borders and the challenges remain the same regardless of country."
Timothy Kirkhope, an ECR MEP and member of the LIBE committee, reiterated this, saying, "Europe needs a decisive and coordinated response between member states. There is clear added value in member states coordinating and sharing information between law enforcement agencies."
He continued, "terrorist attacks that have taken place this year have shown that criminals don't respect legal jurisdiction or national borders. We live in a connected world where you can launder money, buy a gun, and carry out attacks, all in different countries."
Dati also cited the importance of tackling the cross-border threat, saying, "there are hotbeds of radicalised Europeans across the Union, and due to the Schengen area, may travel freely. We are therefore facing a threat which impacts on all of us."
She justified her support of the report by noting, "From Paris to Copenhagen, the phenomenon of terrorism has affected all the countries in Europe… it is urgent to act."
However, the report failed to secure universal backing from MEPs, with GUE/NGL shadow rapporteur Barbara Spinelli remaining opposed to the measures.
She highlighted the "request for enhanced control of the EU's external borders, the reinforcement of agencies such as EUROPOL and a commitment to work towards the finalisation of an EU PNR Directive," as reasons for voting against the report.
Specifically, the report recommends; a need for a common definition of "foreign fighters" in order to begin criminal proceedings against returning jihadis; improving the exchange of information among member states and EU agencies such as Europol and encouraging criminal prosecution of internet companies that refuse to comply with a request to delete illegal content.
Secularism, as a bulwark to radicalisation, should be a key EU foreign policy priority, argues the European Foundation for Democracy's Tommaso Virgili.
If Europe is serious about fighting terrorism and extremism, the institutions of the EU need to be more actively engaged in the current situation involving Qatar, argues Richard Burchill.
Europe is lagging behind in exploiting the potential of its helicopter sector, argues Jaime Arqué.