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Fight against terrorism

The Union's efforts to combat terrorism fall under police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, i.e. Title V of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Article 83 of the Treaty refers specifically to terrorism as a serious crime.

In the battle against terrorism, the European Union has a number of specific tools that make it easier for Member States' law enforcement agencies to provide mutual assistance:

  • Europol;
  • Eurojust;
  • the European arrest warrant;
  • joint investigation teams, comprising leading members of enforcement authorities in Member States and, if required, Europol personnel.

Other tools are concerned more directly with terrorist organisations, their members and operations. These include a common list of persons whose terrorist assets must be confiscated.

Since the attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001, the main stages in the development of the Union's anti-terrorist policy have been marked by various events:

  • the European Council meeting in extra-ordinary session on 21 September 2001 adopted an action plan for closer police and judicial cooperation on counter-terrorism;
  • following the Madrid attacks on 11 March 2004, the European Council meeting of 25-26 March 2004 issued a declaration whereby all Member States will act jointly in a spirit of solidarity and by mobilising all instruments at their disposal, including military resources, if one of them is the victim of a terrorist attack;
  • following the London bombings of July 2005, a counter-terrorism strategy based on the approaches "prevent", "protect", "disrupt" and "respond" was adopted in December 2005.

With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009, the solidarity clause was institutionalised (Article 222 of the TFEU). It provides for joint action on the part of Member States when one of them is the object of a terrorist attack, following that Member State's request for assistance, which is coordinated in the Council.

The efforts to combat terrorism were previously based on the five-year programme adopted in 2004 in The Hague, which set out action priorities for 2005-10. These efforts are now continued under the Stockholm Programme (2010-14) adopted in December 2009.

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