As security is identified as a key priority in the Joint Declaration on the EU's legislative priorities for 2018-19, the Commission is also setting out a number of measures to be taken over the coming months to strengthen support to Member States and speed up EU work. The Commission will continue to drive progress ahead of the September informal leaders' meeting on security, announced in the Leaders' Agenda.
Commissioner for Home Affairs, Migration and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "Security remains a key challenge for Europe and a number one priority for the EU, as reflected in the EU Institutions' Joint Declaration for 2018-19. We must continue to make use of this strong momentum and deliver concrete results for our security, collectively. We need to do more to keep European citizens safe both offline and online. Fighting terrorist propaganda online remains an area where there is a clear urgency to act. The Commission will act if needed and all options remain on the table."
Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said: "Over the past year we have intensified efforts to close information gaps, fight radicalisation, scale up cyber resilience, and protect our public spaces. This comprehensive approach is bringing results: but we need to keep the momentum going to ensure a genuine, effective Security Union. We must deal with the terrorist problem at its heart – the radicalisation that can drive people in Europe to violent and extremist ideologies. We will continue working with experts, policy makers and internet companies on this vital issue – there is much still to do."
Stepping up the fight against radicalisation
In its interim report, the High-Level Expert Group on Radicalisation – set up by the Commission in July 2017 – called for more systematic exchanges on anti-radicalisation between Member States, practitioners and researchers as well as stronger EU support. As a first step to follow up on these recommendations, the Commission will strengthen the coordination at EU level to prevent terrorism. The Commission will also strengthen action against radicalisation in prisons, and against terrorist propaganda both online and offline. The Commission is urging online platforms to speed up their efforts to remove online terrorist content as quickly as possible, and is looking into more specific steps to improve the response to terrorist content online, before deciding whether legislation is needed. Following the territorial losses of Daesh in Syria and Iraq, a Commission-organised conference in April will discuss how Member States are dealing with returnees, including women and children.
Mobilising efforts on cybersecurity and the protection of public spaces
The Commission continues to implement its September 2017 cybersecurity strategy, establishing a Network of Cybersecurity Competence Centres and a Cybersecurity Research and Competence Centre. In the first quarter of 2018, a €50 million pilot project under Horizon 2020 will support creation of this Network. The Commission will also make an additional €5 million available to reinforce Europol's decryption capabilities to support law enforcement in criminal investigations, as announced in its 11th Progress Report and following up on Member States' call for further support at the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting last December.
As regards the protection of public spaces, cooperation is being intensified between private operators of public spaces, such as transport hubs, stadiums and shopping centres, and local and regional authorities. In December, the Commission organised the first meeting of the EU Operators Forum focusing on information exchange and guidance on detection as well as the testing of new technology and security solutions. This was followed by a first dedicated meeting with the car rental industry to explore possible joint action to make it more difficult for terrorists to rent vehicles for the purpose of committing attacks. In January 2018 a security toolkit will be published to provide guidance to European truck drivers, haulage companies and other key stakeholders to address possible threats from terrorism. As part of these efforts, the Commission will set up an online portal for all actors involved to share best practices and is organising, with the Committee of the Regions, a conference with city mayors from across Europe on 8 March.
Progress on terrorist financing, aviation and other priorities
Today's report also takes stock of the progress made in the implementation of other priority files under the European Agenda for Security including information exchange, terrorist financing, security research and aviation security, as well as the external dimension. The Commission is urging the co-legislators to reach agreement on a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and proposals to strengthen the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the coming weeks.
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 13 September 2017.
On 14 December 2017, the presidents of the European Parliament, the rotating Presidency of the Council and the European Commission signed a Joint Declaration on the EU's legislative priorities for 2018-2019, which underlined the central importance of better protecting the security of citizens by placing it at the heart of the Union's legislative work. Priority was given to initiatives designed to ensure that Member States' authorities know who is crossing the common EU external border, to establishing interoperable EU information systems for security, border and migration management, and to reinforcing the instruments in the fight against terrorism and against money laundering.
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 the way towards an effective and genuine Security Union. This progress is reflected in the Commission's reports published on a regular basis.
For More Information
Factsheet: Security Union - a Europe that protects