MEPs held a key debate in Strasbourg plenary this morning on the recent terror attacks in Paris. The discussion focused on how best to tackle the growing terror threat from ISIS following fatal attacks in recent weeks in Mali, Tunisia, Paris, Beirut and Egypt.
The best method for countering ISIS is dividing opinion among MEPs. However, there was unanimous support for taking immediate action and for tightening security across the continent.
Manfred Weber, Chair of the Parliament's centre-right EPP group, spoke of the need for Europe to work quickly and in partnership, specifically citing the importance of improving EU information sharing facilities.
He said, "We need an agreement on passenger name record (PNR), but we also need a review of the EU data protection directive. We need results. We know this is a challenge for Europe as a whole. It is now time for action, not just words."
The Chair of Parliament's S&D grouping, Gianni Pittella, reiterated Weber's call for action. He spoke in favour of, "more Europe, not less, in the face of brutal jihadist terror."
He justified these remarks by saying; "We need more Europe to strengthen cooperation among national intelligence services and to reinforce control of our external borders while safeguarding Schengen, one of the most powerful symbols of EU integration."
Like Weber, he supported implementing, "an effective PNR mechanism that goes hand in hand with data protection," something the European Parliament has taken four years to do. The Parliament previously struck down the bill in 2013 over concerns about data protection and privacy.
Afzal Khan, a Vice-Chair of Parliament's security and defence committee, believes that; "The attacks in Paris brought to light all the shortcomings of EU intelligence cooperation… and that we are now coming to terms with reform that must be done to defeat ISIS."
Khan, a Muslim, advocated a different strategy for counter-terrorism, emphasising the importance of keeping the terror threat separate from the ongoing refugee crisis.
He said, "Europe's strategy to prevent radicalisation should start from the understanding that the current refugee crisis represents an opportunity to confront discrimination, intolerance and hostility in our own lives. We must not mix the challenge of refugees and the challenge of terrorism."
He continued, "Muslims are not the enemy. In our battle against extremism, Muslims in Europe and abroad are our allies."
Geoffrey Van Orden, an MEP for the ECR group, proposed a different solution. He argued that Europhiles were using the crisis "for their own agenda," and that "there is no need for more Europe."
He continued; "We do not need a European security agency, what we need are greater resources and professionalism in member states in fighting terrorism."