The Brief: Islamic State and our way of life

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.

The Commission today presented a communication which begs to be translated into more understandable language. Security Commissioner Julian King faced the press and presented a set of new measures to help protect EU citizens against terrorist threats. The measures at aimed at protecting our “public spaces”. This means our way of life.

Terrorists attack concerts for a reason, especially if the audience is predominantly young and female, like in the concert by Ariana Grande in Manchester. That’s because Islamic State women have no right to have fun.

They target our way of life and it’s not by chance that they hit the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, and that people were rammed by rented trucks and cars on the most iconic promenade venues, like Nice on France’s national day, Antwerp’s shopping area, Westminster Bridge and Las Ramblas in Barcelona.

At least on one occasion, the EU was directly targeted because the twin Brussels attacks on 22 March 2016 tore at the very fabric of the European Union.

The worst reaction would be if we stopped going to concerts, closed cinemas and restaurants, avoided airports, started wearing clothes that fully cover our bodies and locked ourselves in at home, making sure not to play loud music or having barbecues.

If we do this, the terrorists will have won. Our states will look like Islamic State.

As King said, there will never be zero risk. It’s something we’ll have to fully accept. The issue is to keep the risk at the lowest possible level and preserve our way of life.

The proposal is to spend EU money on supporting transnational projects that improve the protection of public spaces, aiding cities by investing in security solutions, exchanging best practices and raising public awareness.

Another initiative is to encourage public-private security partnerships and engage with private operators such as shopping centres, concert organisers, sports arenas and car rental companies.

A lot of other activities are on the horizon, like addressing the problem of returning “foreign fighters”. Now that Islamic State has lost its sanctuary in Raqqa, there is a risk that those terrorists with EU passports could return to Europe and bring the battleground with them.

This also means tackling the problems of radicalisation in prisons, places of worship, or detecting and taking down online radicalisation material.

A great deal of the work can be done at national level but the EU too has its added value. Intelligence communities don’t like to share information but the EU environment has helped make huge headway in areas such as the Schengen data system and Europol.

Last but not least, the Commission is working towards a future European Intelligence Unit, as announced by Juncker in his State of the Union speech. Every cent invested in preserving our way of life, our dearest value, is money very well spent.

The Roundup

Aside from a noxious stink in the Council kitchens, preparations for tomorrow’s EU summit seem to be going smoothly. Our coverage is already well underway, stay tuned to our live blog, where you will find all the latest news and developments.

Poland accused the Commission of “spreading lies” to prove there has been illegal logging in a protected forest. The case will now be heard by a rare full sitting of ECJ judges. Jean-Claude Juncker will have dinner with the Visegrad group’s leaders this evening.

An independent observer told Jorge Valero that a referendum in Catalonia didn’t actually happen. Check the site shortly for the full story.

MEPs reached a compromise on the polarising posted workers directive and Commissioner Tibor Navracsics urged member states to keep focused on education goals. Read our interview here.

The European Parliament wants a greater role in the running of the EU, as a new poll claims public confidence in the bloc is on the up. Maybe the Council should sign up to the Transparency Register to boost this faith even further.

Perhaps a moot point now but a Norwegian official claims that the UK could’ve kept its European Commissioner if Britain had pursued single market membership. UK tabloids also claim Merkel promised Theresa May she would get Juncker’s righthand man, Martin Selmayr, sacked.

German comedians love Brexit. When not labelling it a “budget supermarket cat litter” they’re churning out great videos like this. German speakers will appreciate the ‘Brexit Backwards Express’ more but it’s funny regardless.

Commission officials are getting paranoid, if their LinkedIn searches are anything to go by… Perhaps the UK negotiating team’s bedlam has infected Team Juncker. We’ll let you know if anyone in the EURACTIV newsroom fulfills the criteria.

Look out for…

EU leaders arrive in Brussels for the latest European Council summit. Our live blog will tell you all you need to know from the meeting. Schuman station closes at midday as usual, so plan accordingly.

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