Mogherini pledges ‘concrete action’ in response to Paris attack

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EC, speaks during a visit to Iraq, 22 Dec. 2014

"Giving the coordination of the neighbourhood declustering to Mogherini is no silver bullet, but certainly an option to consider. Neighbourhood policy is part of foreign policy," said Pascal Lamy. [European Commission]

European Union governments and officials are discussing responses to the killing of French journalists in Paris and could propose new policies in the coming weeks, officials said on Thursday (8 January).

“We must, in the days to come, make sure that this pain transforms itself into concrete actions,” the bloc’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told a news conference in Riga.

“With the pain, we have already begun to work on the response,” she said, speaking in French.

The EU’s foreign policy chief was speaking after a meeting between the European Commission and the Latvian government, which has taken over the rotating presidency of ministerial councils.

Flags were flying half-mast in front of the National Library in Riga, where the ceremonies of the launch of the presidency were being held.

Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma told a separate news conference that a wide range of measures had been discussed.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who had also travelled to Riga, said, however, that it was premature to make decisions. Speaking to the press alongside Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma, Juncker said this was a moment of silence for Europe.

“I know from experience we should not react on the next day of such events by tabling proposals, because we risk making mistakes. The Commission has pledged to present a new program of fight against terrorism in the weeks to come,” Juncker commented.

Efforts should be made, Juncker said, to improve coordination among national governments and security agencies. He emphasized that that fight against terrorism is primarily a member state competence, but added that “interconnections” must be but in place between national authorities to fight against terrorism, “in a preemptive way”.

One issue likely to be discussed further is a proposal for EU states to share records of air passengers – a measure that has been held up in the European Parliament over privacy concerns.

>> Read: MEPs reject EU passenger data storage scheme

New security measures will be discussed by foreign ministers at a meeting on 19 January and by interior ministers on 29 January.

“We should also examine the possibilities offered by the Schengen system to see how it may be improved,” Juncker said.

Mogherini said the bloc had to address threats through internal security measures and also in its relations with other countries, notably in the Arab world, Africa and Asia. The two aspects need to be coordinated, she stressed, saying that “there are no internal-external division line when it comes to our security”.

“The fight against terrorism is not only a political but also a cultural challenge that we share with our partners around the world, starting with the Arab countries, the countries of Africa and Asia because we are convinced that we must completely detach the word ‘terrorism’ from the word ‘Islam’,” Mogherini said.

Two masked gunmen killed 12 people at the offices of the weekly Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday. Several of the dead had drawn cartoons in the past lampooning Islam.

>> Read: Europe mourns France’s bloodiest terrorist attack for 20 years

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