Anti-terrorism Policy

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With the suicide bombing attacks on London in July 2005, anti-terrorism has become the absolute top priority for the UK Presidency (June-December 2005) and for Europe. The EU anti-terrorism policy, in place since the 2001 US attacks and extended after the 2004 bombings in Madrid, is being stepped up and will be updated on an ongoing basis.

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Overview

Europe has suffered from terrorism from various sources for decades (eg ETA, IRA) and a policy of increased judicial co-operation between member states had already been agreed as part of the Tampere Programme when the attack against the US took place in 2001. 

Immediate reaction to the twin tower attacks was the September 2001 anti-terrorism action plan, followed by a framework decision defining terrorist offences and aligning the level of sanctions between member states. Following the Madrid bombings, the Council issued a declaration against terrorism and appointed Gijs de Vries as counter-terrorism co-ordinator (see EurActiv interview with Mr de Vries). The action plan is updated every 6 months, most recently in June 2005. From December 2005, the Commission will also produce a scoreboard showing the level of implementation of action plan measures.

The Hague Programme, adopted in November 2004 to succeed Tampere, includes a number of ambitious measures on exchange of information, border control, security of travel documents and police and judicial co-operation. In December 2004, the Council adopted specific measures on combating terrorist financing, civil protection policy, prevention of recruitment, critical infrastructure protection and external security policy.   

Following the London attacks in July 2005, EU interior ministers held an extraordinary meeting where they agreed that all measures already decided on should be implemented as a matter of urgency. These include: 

  • European evidence warrant;
  • strengthening of Schengen and visa information systems;
  • biometric details on passports;
  • combating terrorist financing (see below);
  • prevention of recruitment and radicalisation;
  • greater controls over trade, storage and transport of explosives.

In September 2005, the Commission came up with a further package including a proposed directive on data retention, a communication on radicalisation and a decision to allocate €7 million to prevention, preparedness and response to terrorist attacks. 

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