MEPs to mark first anniversary of Brussels attacks
MEPs will next week pay tribute to the victims of the Brussels attacks as part of several events to mark the first anniversary of the terrorist atrocity.
European Commission flags at half-mast following the 22 March attacks | Photo credit: Press Association
A short ceremony will be held in Parliament on 22 March, the anniversary of the twin attacks at the city's airport and a metro station that killed 32 people.
A similar event will take place at Zaventem airport on Wednesday morning.
The commemorations come after European home affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos updated Parliament on security measures put in place since the attacks in Brussels.
- Commissioner King: EU can make a difference in fight against terrorism
- Brussels attacks demonstrate 'urgent need' for EU intelligence cooperation
- EU counter-terrorism chief warns against fresh attacks in Europe
The official, speaking in Strasbourg, also said that since last March there had been a 34 per cent increase in data about alleged terror suspects coming into Europol, the EU police agency.
However, some MEPs voiced disappointment with what Avramopoulos told them, including GUE/NGL group member Cornelia Ernst who said, "I wasn't impressed with the list of measures he presented.
The German MEP said, "Rather than providing an explanation for the attack, citizens want to know how we can stop attacks from happening, even though we know that there is no such thing as absolute safety and security.
"But listening to the Commissioner's long catalogue of activities to prevent terrorism, one cannot but wonder if the right things are being done. It is wrong to assume that the more you do the better it is.
"For instance, when the Commission says that there is a 34 per cent increase in data coming into Europol, we know that data was already available to the police before previous attacks and they weren't stopped.
"Therefore what's important is to know how to use the data to stop the next attack. What we need are scientific exchanges between the authorities and to better understand what kind of data is needed, what information is necessary and relevant, and what kind of measures are needed at the borders.
"It is of paramount importance that our citizens are safe and this cannot take place without the appropriate exchange of data."
The EPP has also called for more effort at EU level to combat terrorism.
Roberta Metsola, EPP group spokesperson on Parliament's civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, said, "One year from the horrifying terrorist attacks in Brussels, we will never forget those victims who lost their lives or were injured. Our grief and anger have translated into a determination to do everything we can to keep Europe safe."
She added, "We still need member states to cooperate more when it comes to information exchange and for them to make full use of modern security and intelligence equipment.
"Prevention and persecution of criminal behaviour must be made more efficient by having a fully functional EU criminal records system in place. At the same time, it is essential that we have a coordinated approach to stop the trafficking of illegal firearms so often used during terrorist attacks in Europe."
The Maltese deputy said the EU is not alone in its fight, adding, "Terrorism is a global threat and requires a global response. Cooperation with third countries in anti-terrorist measures needs to remain on the EU's agenda. There is a lot of work ahead of us. Nothing is of a higher priority than a safe Europe."
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.