MEPs split over EU counter-terrorism response

Parliament's civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee (LIBE) has met to discuss the need for further counter terrorism measures in the wake of the Paris attacks.

By Julie Levy-Abegnoli

29 Jan 2015

While the general consensus is that action must be taken to combat rising terrorist threats within the EU, MEPs were unable to agree on what shape this should take and whether it should focus on Europe or third countries.

Matthias Ruete, director general of DG Migration and Home Affairs, explained that the commission's bottom line was "action but not activism".

Centre-right MEP Agustín Díaz de Mera García Consuegra called on Europe "to be much tougher when it comes to repression and prosecution", while his fellow EPP group member Rachida Dati added, "the question is no longer to know whether terrorists are going to commit atrocities, the question is when".

However, others were more cautious in their comments. ALDE deputy Sophie in t' Veld warned that "we get it wrong because we act in a rush and on impulse and we forget what it is we want to protect".

S&D MEP Christine Revauly d'Allonnes Bonnefoy echoed these thoughts, saying, "we should not be in too much of a rush or allow emotion to rule what we do - we need a proper debate".

"We get it wrong because we act in a rush and on impulse and we forget what it is we want to protect" - Sophie in t' Veld

For Laura Ferrara, a member of parliament's EFDD group, the EU and member states "already have the instruments, we need to find out how to make the right use of them".

Some parliamentarians called for the problem to be tackled at its root, with S&D group member Birgit Sippel stressing that "we in Europe are the sideshow - the real arena where many deaths take place is elsewhere".

GUE/NGL MEP Cornelia Ernst seemingly agreed, calling for "measures to stop people getting involved in terrorism on the ground".

However, Greens/EFA deputy Judith Sargentini argued that "these are home grown fighters with a European passport, not even necessarily travelling between member states but still doing harm".

This has been a recurrent claim in the past few weeks, amid ongoing debate on the implementation of the passenger name record (PNR) system.

Malin Björk, a member of the far-left, agreed with Sargentini, saying, "the terrorists that we have seen are Europeans", reminding her colleagues of the attack perpetrated in her home country of Norway in 2011 by a Norwegian national. 

However, she also heavily criticised Europe, describing it as having been "built on colonialism and racism - our societies are already polarised".

There are no plans as of yet for MEPs to vote on a specific plan of action to combat terrorism, but the commission has announced that it is to begin work on a new strategy.


Read the most recent articles written by Julie Levy-Abegnoli - MEPs vote against beginning negotiations on updating EU copyright laws