Brussels, 19 September 2001
Europe must have common instruments to tackle terrorism
The European Commission is calling for greater harmonisation and closer cooperation in combating terrorism and crime. With the adoption today of two proposals for framework decisions on the fight against terrorism and the European arrest warrant, the Commission is getting down to the business of setting up genuine European cooperation in criminal matters on the basis of automatic mutual recognition between the Member States' judicial authorities.
"Terrorist acts are committed by international gangs with bases in several countries, exploiting loopholes in the law created by the geographical limits on investigators and often enjoying substantial financial and logistical resources", said António Vitorino, the Commissioner responsible for Justice and Home Affairs. "Terrorists take advantage of differences in legal treatment between States, in particular where the offence is not treated as such by national law, and that is where we have to begin", he added.
The current situation differs widely from one Member State to another. In most of them, there are no specific rules on terrorism and terrorist acts are punished as offences under the ordinary law. Six Member States (Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom) have specific legislation on terrorism, in which the words "terrorism" or "terrorist" are used explicitly.
Two proposals were adopted today: