Parliament's rapporteur on the prevention of radicalisation and recruitment of European citizens by terrorist organisations, Rachida Dati, has warned that Europe is falling behind in the fight against radicalisation, because governments are not cooperating sufficiently.
She urged the EU to "build a model for de-radicalisation", explaining that youths at risk of being lured into terrorist organisations were, "ticking time bombs". The EPP deputy stressed that, "as long as intelligence agencies fail to cooperate hand-in-hand, we will not be able to eradicate these types of terrorists."
Her EPP colleague, Monika Hohlmeier, noted that, "terrorists are not just young, unemployed people who come from underprivileged backgrounds. They come from all parts of society; some of them are thoroughly integrated."
She also underlined that the centre-right group, "is very clearly against any confusion between migration and terrorism, or any suspicions against Muslims; we must encourage inter-religious dialogue."
Dati also advocated a Europe-wide passenger name record (PNR) system, acknowledging that, "it won't stop everything, but it would at least allow us to trace individuals who have been flagged and see where they are going."
Hohlmeier cautioned that, "PNR is just one building block - it won't fix everything. But data protection must not be taken too far." The German MEP explained that even in the event of a terrorist attack, authorities had to ask internet companies for permission to access users' data. This permission was not always granted, hindering their investigations.
Parliament is currently drafting a report on establishing an EU PNR, which has been under discussion since 2011. It is a highly divisive topic, with some MEPs fearing that such a mechanism would jeopardise people's right to privacy and result in blanket data retention.
Dati also called for, "systematic controls at the EU's external borders, at least so we know who is coming in and who is leaving."
The French MEP said that another issue that Europe must urgently tackle is its difficulties in tracking terrorist finance. She complained that, "if European authorities want to track suspicious financial flows, they ask US intelligence services rather than their own."
Ultimately, she warned, "we cannot let people live with insecurity just because policymakers are cynical" about their ability to take action, particularly considering that, "terrorists take advantage of the fact that member states don't work together."