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Security Union: Commissioner Avramopoulos Remarks at the Launch of the 2017 EU Terrorism Report

Dear all,

I am glad to be in Valletta today, ahead of the EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial. We are here at a very timely moment for our transatlantic relations, in the context of the current global challenges on security as well as mobility.

Europe today is facing several new and complex security threats, which are becoming more varied and more international in nature.

I would like to thank Europol and Rob Wainwright for this annual report, which has become an important point of reference for our counter-terrorism efforts.

Too many innocent lives were affected and lost this year: London and Manchester, but also Stockholm, Berlin, Nice, Brussels, Paris and elsewhere, are a stark reminder of why we need to continue pursuing all our efforts on counter-terrorism.

It is no surprise that terrorism remains one of the top concerns of our citizens, who expect a strong EU response to this ongoing threat. Rob will give you the detailed findings of the report.

We are confronted with a totally unpredictable phase of terrorism today, beyond and above ideological, religious or political motivations. The fact that there are people who are determined to kill themselves, means that they don’t care about their lives; so we should not expect them to show respect for the lives of others.

This kind of terrorism is not just a threat to our security; it is also a threat to our cohesion and to our democracies. We have seen a rise in polarisation and increased political extremism which sometimes leads to violence against certain population groups and minorities.

We have also seen a few cases where terrorists try to abuse and exploit the current migration situation, by attempting to infiltrate the migration flows and spread fear. This is the face of terrorism that wishes to divide us. This is why we have to fight those who wish to divide us, not only with hard security measures but also with our unity.

We are already doing a lot to counter radicalisation both online and offline. Offline, the Radicalisation Awareness Network will soon become more operational. Online, we already have a partnership with internet industries in place through our EU Internet Forum. We will make the most of this partnership to further improve the outcomes to remove terrorist propaganda online.

These actions come on top of our security measures, focusing on our borders first. Every single person trying to cross our borders is systematically checked against all security databases. All migrants arriving at the hotspots are fingerprinted and screened for security risks.

Our EU-PNR system is being rapidly implemented. A new criminal justice framework is being put in place, criminalising not only the act of terrorism, but also:

  •          travel;
  •          training;
  •          and any facilitation.

The connecting element between all these actions is information sharing and trust. When we launched the European Counter Terrorism Centre at Europol last year, we did it precisely for this reason: to connect the dots and to support our Member States.

Europol is also central for our international cooperation on security, with liaison officers from international partners such as the United States that work closely with Europol and our Member States.

We have gone from being reactive to being proactive when it comes to security in Europe. We are not where we were two years ago.

Building trust in all these efforts that I mentioned has been an essential part of it, and we must continue deepening it. But we need all actors to continue working together, hand in hand:

  •          EU institutions;
  •          And Agencies such as Europol;

but also:

  •          the European Border and Coast Guard;
  •          Member States;
  •          the private sector;
  •          civil society;
  •          and experts.

Terrorism is a threat that affects us all equally today – not just in Europe, but globally. This is why our cooperation with key partner countries is essential: with the United States of course, but also with neighbouring countries such as:

  •          Turkey;
  •          the Western Balkans;
  •          countries in North Africa;
  •          and countries in the Middle East.

Our fight against terrorism is both at home and abroad. And our response can only be common and united.

Thank you.

For More Information

Factsheet: Security Union: A Europe That Protects

Factsheet: A European Agenda on Security: State of Play May 2017