Action by the European Union following the attacks on 11 September
European Commission - MEMO/01/327 15/10/2001
Other available languages: FR
Brussels, 15 October 2001
Action by the European Union following the attacks on 11 September
The EU was swift to respond to the terrorist attacks on 11 September. In accordance with the Plan of Action adopted by the Extraordinary European Council held in Brussels on 21 September, it has set in train a series of measures in those areas where it must and can make an effective contribution: external relations, police and judicial cooperation, air transport, humanitarian aid and economic and financial policy.
It intends to continue and build on these measures, guided by the values of solidarity, security and steadfast determination in the fight against terrorism.
Solidarity with the American people and the civilian population of Afghanistan.
Strengthened security in air travel and other forms of transport
Firm determination in the fight against terrorism, reflected in closer cooperation between our Member States' own police and judicial authorities and with the authorities of the United States and other non-EU countries, coupled with a major diplomatic drive to create a broad coalition against terrorism.
By 13 September the Commission had tabled proposals for a European arrest warrant to supplant the current system of extradition between Member States and a common definition of terrorism and related penalties. These could be adopted by the Council as early as December.
They represent the first in a much wider panoply of measures against all forms of cross-border organised crime, including terrorism, designed to make the EU an area of freedom, security and justice.
The European Council identified a series of desirable measures including: joint investigation teams of police and magistrates from throughout the EU; a common list of terrorist organisations; routine exchange of information about terrorism between the Member States and Europol; a specialist anti-terrorist team within Europol; a cooperation agreement on terrorism between Europol and the relevant US authorities; and Eurojust, a coordination body composed of magistrates, prosecutors and police officers, to be launched on 1 January 2002.
Another key aim is to dry up the sources of terrorist funding. An important step in this direction was taken on 8 October, when the Council of Ministers asked the Commission to take the necessary measures to freeze the assets of 27 organisations or individuals suspected of having links to the attacks of 11 September, pursuant to a decision adopted by the UN Sanctions Committee on 6 October. This will supplement measures already in force in the EU giving effect to UN resolutions.
In addition to the UN sanctions the Commission submitted a proposal on 2 October for a regulation designed to curb the funding of organisations and individuals involved in international terrorism. Parliament responded swiftly, endorsing the measure on 4 October; the Council has not yet given its decision.
Turning from external economic sanctions to internal measures the EU is about to tighten up its laws against money laundering. The current directive only applies to the proceeds of drug-related crime; a proposed extension would make it mandatory for Member States to combat laundering of the proceeds of any type of crime.
The amended legislation - unlike the existing directive, which applies only to the financial sector - would also extend coverage to a series of non-financial activities and professions which are vulnerable to misuse by money launderers. Requirements as regards client identification, record keeping and reporting of suspicious transactions would therefore be extended to external accountants and auditors, real estate agents, notaries and lawyers carrying on financial transactions, dealers in precious stones and metals, transporters of funds and casinos.
The EU will also be considering what type of action to take against countries which fail to offer satisfactory cooperation in efforts to combat money laundering.
Another possible source of funds for terrorism is speculation, and the EU is studying a proposal designed to counter market manipulation more effectively by obliging the competent national authorities to cooperate more closely and exchange more information.
At the Commission's initiative, Member States agreed to bring forward the introduction of the new Civil Protection Mechanism, which reinforces EU cooperation in this field, and which is coordinated by the Commission. In particular, this cooperation includes:
The Commission and the Member States are also finalising a preliminary response to the threat of bio-terrorism, in the form of a surveillance and control network for transmissible diseases including an early warning and rapid response system.
Since the 11 September terrorist attacks the issue of transport safety - and in particular, increased air transport security - has moved to the top of the agenda.
The European Council called on EU transport ministers to take measures covering classification of weapons, technical training for crew, checking and monitoring of hold luggage, protection of cockpit access and quality control of security measures applied by Member States.
The Council is due to give its opinion on 15 October on a Commission proposal to improve training for cabin crew.
On 10 October, the Commission put forward proposals to improve checks on passengers and luggage. It also proposed to the Member States that a series of inspections of airport safety standards should take place with the aim of enhancing the level of checks carried out in Europe.
On the international front the EU submitted a proposal to the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) on 26 September calling for it to build up a set of mandatory international security rules for domestic as well as international flights, and to monitor compliance with them.
Airlines have undoubtedly been hard hit by the attacks, and on 10 October the Commission put forward proposals designed to ensure that they do not have to bear any extra costs. These include flexible application of the rules on slots, possible compensation for losses incurred and government support to cover the cost of security measures.
It would be irresponsible, however, to bail out the airlines using public money. Such a course of action would distort competition and unleash a costly subsidy war. The Commission intends to see that European state aid rules are strictly enforced. But it is important in this connection to make a clear distinction between the actual cost of the 11 September attacks, for which the Commission is proposing remedies, and the structural problems of the air transport industry, which were apparent before the attacks and will have to be tackled by a restructuring of the sector.
In the wake of moves by insurance companies drastically increasing the cost of cover for acts of war or terrorism, the Commission asked the Ecofin Council to come up with a coordinated response. The Council agreed that Member States should exceptionally, and as a short-term measure, be allowed to provide cover or pay the higher premiums for a month pending a more lasting solution. The Commission has left open the possibility of extending these measurs until the end of the year. Failing that, the Commission will consider an alternative solution in consultation with Member States.
The Commission is also considering what measures might be taken against the excessive reaction of some insurance companies.
The diplomatic offensive
The European Union voiced its solidarity with the United States on the day the attacks occurred. A further expression of solidarity was the adoption on 20 September of a joint EU-US statement on measures to combat terrorism.
At its extraordinary session on 21 September the European Council recognised the legitimacy of a US riposte to the attacks on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 1368.
The European Council also called for the broadest possible global coalition against terrorism under the aegis of the UN.
The EU is also keen to play a greater part in bringing an end to regional conflict, with particular reference to the Middle East.
It recognises that to be more effective in the fight against terrorism and on the world stage generally it must make its European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) fully operational and initiate an in-depth political dialogue with those countries and regions of the world where terrorism comes into being.
All countries need to be integrated into a fair world system of security, prosperity and improved development, as the condition for a strong and sustainable community to combat terrorism.
The European Union adamantly rejects any equation of terrorism with the Arab and Muslim world.
A team of senior European officials consisting of Belgian foreign minister Louis Michel, currently holding the Presidency of the Council, his Spanish opposite number and next in line to hold the Presidency, Josep Piqué, the High Representative for the CFSP, Javier Solana, and the Commissioner responsible for external relations, Chris Patten, visited Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria from 24 to 28 September to present the EU's position.
It found a broad measure of agreement and a common desire to combat terrorism, coupled with a unanimous recognition of the crucial part to be played by the UN. With a single exception none of the countries visited disputed the United States' right to deliver a riposte provided it was targeted, avoided civilian losses and was based on tangible evidence of complicity in the 11 September attacks.
On 3 October the EU and Russia agreed to strengthen political cooperation and joint efforts to combat terrorism.
When the military riposte got under way in Afghanistan on 7 October the President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, expressed the Commission's total solidarity with the action. The EU foreign ministers for their part, in a statement issued following the General Affairs Council on 8 October, declared their "wholehearted support for the action that is being taken in self-defence".
The Council also promised action to avert a humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. The EU is ready to support a UN-backed political process to bring about reconstruction and the opening up of Afghanistan.
The Commission has been asked to consider stepping up the EU's assistance to Pakistan under a new cooperation agreement.
The Commission will also be pressing ahead with consultations with Iran aimed at initiating negotiations for a trade and cooperation agreement, and expects to put forward proposals shortly.
A European Conference is scheduled to take place in Brussels on 20 October. The EU, the thirteen accession candidates, the EEA countries (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), Switzerland, plus Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and the western Balkan countries will be meeting to coordinate their policies in the fight against international terrorism.
The European Union is taking care to see that an already dire humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the result of years of conflict and drought, does not deteriorate any further.
Via ECHO, its Humanitarian Aid Office, the European Commission is, apart from the United States, the biggest donor of humanitarian aid for Afghanistan - €150 million since 1993.
If food aid and assistance for Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries are added to that figure the total granted by the EU to Afghanistan since 1991 comes to €426 million.
So far this year ECHO has mobilised €27.3 million and the Commission is trying to mobilise a further €25 million - the budgetary authority's decision is expected on 15 October. Together with food aid and aid for displaced persons in neighbouring countries that brings the total managed by the Commission this year to €102 million.
Taking the EU Member States' individual contributions into account total EU aid comes to €314 for 2001.
The aid is delivered by 29 partner organisations, most of them NGOs but including the UNHCR (office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees), the WFP (World Food Programme) and the ICRC (international Committee of the Red Cross).
The economic outlook
Although the 11 September attacks have undoubtedly had an impact on the world economy the European Union remains confident about its own potential.
The slowdown of the EU economy is more pronounced than had been foreseen, and the terrorist assaults add to uncertainties about the prospects for growth.
Nevertheless, the European economy is on a sound footing, with inflation under control and fiscal consolidation progressing satisfactorily. It should be well able to weather cyclical shocks.
Tax cuts, favourable interest rates and OPEC's commitment to ensure stable oil prices should also help cushion the impact of the current situation.