As set out in the European Council Conclusions of 22-23 June, recent attacks have once again highlighted the need to intensify the joint efforts at EU level to effectively fight terrorism, hatred and violent extremism. Against this backdrop, the Commission today outlines measures taken at EU level to counter radicalisation, fight terrorism and crime and their financing and tackle the cyber threat as well as reporting on the next steps towards interoperability of information systems.
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "Europe must face up to security challenges and terrorist threats together, with new action at EU level and an acceleration of our ongoing work to protect our citizens. With the backing of national leaders, the Commission has reviewed today what has been done so far, notably in fighting radicalisation and terrorist financing. We are also proposing additional measures to keep Europe safe, like making sure our EU security databases can work better together and improving our response to cyberattacks."
Countering radicalisation — online and offline
One year after presenting a set of concrete measures to support Member States in countering radicalisation – the majority of which are being implemented – the Commission is today outlining a number of additional initiatives to address in particular the use of digital communication and returning foreign terrorist fighters.
- Radicalisation online – the Commission has been working with key internet companies since 2015 including through the EU Internet Forum to detect and remove online terrorist content. In light of recent attacks however, internet platforms should step up their efforts – as called for by the European Council Conclusions of 22-23 June. To complement the work of Europol's Internet Referral Unit, the Commission calls on all Member States to establish national Internet Referral Units.
- Prevention and anti-radicalisation — The Commission will swiftly establish a High-Level Expert Group on Radicalisation to facilitate the further development and enhance the impact of EU policies in this area. The Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) will also carry out a series of workshops on returning terrorist fighters for national authorities.
In addition, as part of long-term measures against radicalisation, the Commission will continue to support social inclusion and integration through initiatives such as Erasmus +, the European Pillar of Social Rights as well as work with partner countries through targeted training and financial support.
Strengthening cyber resilience and cybersecurity
As announced in the Digital Single Market mid-term review, the Commission is accelerating its work to close the gaps in the current cybersecurity framework. A number of short-term and operational actions should be taken to strengthen our response to the increased cyber threat as a part of wider review of the 2013 Cybersecurity Strategy that will follow in September.
- Boosting systems and networks – the Commission will provide an additional €10.8 million in funding to 14 Member States under the Connecting Europe Facility to strengthen the network of national Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRT network). The European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), which led the law enforcement response to the WannaCry attack, should be equipped by Europol with further IT expertise.
- Criminal Justice – the Commission is looking into possible legislative action to improve cross border access to electronic evidence. The Commission is also examining the challenges posed by the use of encryption by criminals and will report on its findings by October 2017.
Interoperability and terrorist financing
The Commission has today taken further action to advance its new approach towards interoperability of EU information systems by presenting two legislative proposals on the eu-LISA Agency and the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS-TCN) (press release available here). In addition, the report takes stock of the work implemented under the 2016 Action Plan on Terrorist Financing.
Security has been a political priority 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 14 September 2016.
The European Agenda on Security guides the Commission's work in this area, setting out the main actions to ensure an effective EU response to terrorism and security threats, including countering radicalisation, boosting cybersecurity, cutting terrorist financing as well as improving information exchange. Since the adoption of the Agenda, significant progress has been made in its implementation, paving a way towards an effective and genuine Security Union. This progress is reflected in the Commission's reports published on a regular basis.
With regards to countering radicalisation, the European Commission has been supporting Member States' work for some time through initiatives and platforms such as the EU Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) and the EU Internet Forum. In June last year, the Commission presented a Communication setting out concrete actions to support Member States in preventing and countering violent radicalisation leading to terrorism.
The European Council conclusions of 22-23 June 2017 further reiterated the EU's determination to cooperate at European level to fight terrorism and enhance EU's security.
For More Information
Communication: Delivering on the European Agenda on Security to fight against terrorism and pave the way towards an effective and genuine Security Union
Communication: European Agenda on Security
Factsheet: EU Information Systems
Factsheet: Security Union
Factsheet: A Europe that protects