In line with the calls made by the Bratislava roadmap and the October European Council conclusions, important steps forward made over the past month include the launch of the European Border and Coast Guard on 6 October, in-depth discussions about the action being taken by the Radicalisation Awareness Network in particular with respect to young people at risk of radicalisation, as well as today's proposal for a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), following the announcement in September by President Juncker in his 2016 State of the Union address.
Commissioner for the Security Union, Julian King, said: "A few days ago, Europe marked the one-year anniversary of the horrendous attacks in Paris, where reactivated military assault weapons were used with devastating effect. It is high time to finalise the legislative work on the revision of the Firearms Directive and remove military grade automatic Kalashnikov type weapons from wider circulation. The report also calls on co-legislators to complete two other packages before the end of year: the new Counterterrorism Directive and the revision of the Schengen Border Code. Taken together, these rules can make a real difference on the ground, including when facing the threat posed by returning foreign terrorist fighters, and will help authorities protect citizens across Europe more effectively".
Looking ahead, the report highlights in particular the urgent need for the European Parliament and the Council to follow through on their commitments, most recently in the Bratislava Roadmap and at the October European Council, and reach agreement on the Commission proposals on the revision of the Firearms Directive, the Directive on Combatting Terrorism and on the establishment of systematic checks of all persons crossing the external borders of the EU.
The main points highlighted are:
Strengthening the fight against terrorism and organised crime
- Legal framework: The European Parliament and the Council should agree, by the end of November, on the proposal for a Directive on Combatting Terrorism. The co-legislators should also by the end of 2016 agree on the revised Firearms Directive. In December, the Commission will present the final package of proposals under the terrorist financing Action Plan, including proposals on the criminalisation of money laundering.
- Preventing and fighting radicalisation: At the High Level Conference of the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) a new "RAN Young" platform was launched to encourage young people to get involved in prevention work with youth at risk of radicalisation, a key target group for terrorist recruiters. The second high-level meeting of the EU Internet Forum on 8 December 2016 will take this work forward to prevent online radicalisation and tackle terrorist propaganda on the internet. It will establish a new Joint Referrals Platform and a Civil Society Empowerment Programme.
Strengthening our defences and resilience
- Strengthening information systems and closing information gaps: TheCommission today proposed to establish a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) to strengthen security checks on visa-free travellers. The ETIAS will gather information on all those travelling visa-free to the European Union to allow for advance irregular migration and security checks. The Commission calls on the co-legislators to start working on its proposal to establish a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) – as called for in the Bratislava Roadmap – as a matter of urgency.
- Improving information exchange: The Commission is actively driving the implementation of the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive, to ensure that the May 2018 deadline for full implementation will be achieved by all EU Member States.
- Enhancing security at the external border: After the launch of the European Border and Coast Guard in October, it is now crucial that Member States follow through on their commitment to deploy the staff and equipment to reach full capacity for rapid reaction by the end of the year. The October European Council also called for the swift adoption of the Commission proposal to enforce systematic controls on all travellers crossing EU external borders – a key instrument to detect returning foreign fighters. Furthermore, in December the Commission will present a first set of proposals to improve the functionalitiesof the Schengen Information System (SIS). The Commission will also present an Action Plan to improve the security features in travel documents before the end of the year.
- The Commission is also working on the establishment of a Single Search Interface for Member State law enforcement, border and immigration authorities. In addition, the High Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability will present an interim report by the end of the year.
Security has been a constant theme since the beginning of the Juncker Commission's mandate – from President Juncker's Political Guidelines of July 2014 to the latest State of the Union address on September 2016.
The European Commission adopted the European Agenda on Security on 28 April 2015, setting out the main actions to ensure an effective EU response to terrorism and security threats in the European Union over the period 2015-2020.
Since the adoption of the Agenda, significant progress has been made in its implementation. In November 2015, the Commission proposed the revision of the Firearms Directive followed by an Action Plan on firearms and explosives in December 2015. On terrorism, a new Directive on Combatting Terrorism was adopted by the Commission in December 2015 and a specific Action Plan on terrorist financing in February 2016. In April, the Commission proposed the establishment of the Entry Exit System (EES) and presented a Communication paving the way towards an effective and genuine Security Union. In addition, a single EU certification for aviation security equipment was adopted in September.
Most recently, the Commission presented its Communication of 14 September 2016 'Enhancing security in a world of mobility' which confirmed the need to strike the right balance between ensuring mobility and enhancing security, while facilitating legal entry into the Schengen area without the need for a visa. In addition, on 6 October the European Border and Coast Guard became operational, only 9 months after the Commission's proposal in December, showing a clear commitment to reinforce the management and security of the EU's external borders.
The creation by President Juncker of a specific Commissioner portfolio for the Security Union in August 2016 shows the importance the Commission has attached to stepping up its response to the terrorist threat.
The first monthly progress report on Security Union was presented on 12 October and covered the period from April to October 2016, while the second report of today looks at progress achieved since then and looks ahead to December 2016.
For more information
Press release: Commission proposes a European Travel Information and Authorisation System
Press release: Securing Europe's external borders – launch of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency
Factsheet: Security Union
Questions and Answers: Paving the way towards a genuine and effective Security Union