MEPs have approved a new plan to fight terrorism that calls for the EU to have a close security partnership with the UK after it leaves the bloc.
The call was included in the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Terrorism’s final report which emphasised that it was “crucial to ensure a continuation of the mutual security cooperation and exchange of information between the EU and the UK, post-Brexit”.
The committee has spent the last year examining ways in which it might improve the EU's response to the recent wave of attacks across Europe.
The package was approved in Strasbourg shortly after the city found itself under lockdown on Tuesday night following a terrorist attack in the city that left three people dead. Some MEPs were confined to their hotel rooms or to the parliament building as police searched the city for a gunman.
German EPP member Monika Hohlmeier who co-led the report through the committee, said “Yesterday’s attack on the Christmas market in Strasbourg was an attack on European citizens and the common EU values and principles in the worst possible way.”
The incident has shown us again that we need to leave empty slogans and unrealistic measures behind and concentrate our activities on what really makes Europe safe. Despite all the efforts made over the past years, there are still gaps and ways to make the fight against terrorism more efficient.”
She added, “This means wider cooperation and information exchange between intelligence services and authorities, more prevention measures against radicalisation, tougher legal instruments and better protection of the rights of victims”.
"Despite all the efforts made over the past years, there are still gaps and ways to make the fight against terrorism more efficient” Monika Hohlmeier MEP
Her co-rapporteur, Belgian ECR deputy Helga Stevens said, "The terrorist attacks in the centre of Strasbourg, yesterday evening, highlight the imminent threat and absolute urgency of dealing better with this sad new reality.”
“Today our report has been put to the vote in the same city, the seat of the European Parliament. Many innovative ideas have been proposed, such as the EU blacklist for hate preachers, allowing people renting cars to be cross-checked against police databases, and including private planes under the PNR Directive.”
“We are recommending best practices, such as the local anti-radicalisation cells introduced in Belgium. And we put the victims at the forefront, by asking for medical costs to be automatically pre-paid after an attack and smoother insurance procedures.”
“These are just a few examples from the comprehensive and poignant report ".
“We should be under no illusion that those who wish us harm and seek to disrupt our societies are continuously plotting attacks” Geoffrey Van Orden MEP
UK Conservative MEP Geoffrey Van Orden, Vice-Chair of the committee and its only British member was quick to comment on the continued post-Brexit security cooperation saying, “I welcome the vote that recognises Britain’s enormous expertise and capabilities in counter-terrorism. It's in the interest of the whole of Europe for the EU to ensure seamless continuity in the security relationship with Britain."
Van Orden added: “We should be under no illusion that those who wish us harm and seek to disrupt our societies are continuously plotting attacks.”
“Only last night, as MEPs were considering this report, a gunman attacked Strasbourg’s Christmas market. It is vital that we continue to work together to keep our citizens safe, and not allow EU dogma to weaken our common efforts to combat terrorism.”