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Member of the European Commission responsible for Home Affairs
Towards a more resilient Europe
SAAB seminar "Crisis management – Local, Regional and Global Perspectives"
Brussels, 16 November 2010
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be here and take part in tonight's seminar on Crisis Management.
As the title of the seminar indicates there is a growing need to address crisis management on all levels and from all perspectives – locally, regionally, and globally. This is where the EU can make a difference.
And this event could not be more timely, because in a few days' time the Commission will adopt its proposal for putting the EU's Internal Security Strategy into action.
In the ISS, we have chosen to address five areas where we have outlined our priorities with the most important actions for the EU to take within the coming four years.
I want to use this opportunity with you tonight to firstly explain why we need this strategy.
Secondly, I will explain what actions we propose in order to make the EU more secure during the coming four years.
And thirdly, I will explain how we will make sure that what we have suggested will be implemented so that men and women working with security everyday will see a difference in their practical work, and so that we can increase security for our citizens, businesses, and societies in Europe.
Let me start with why we need this strategy.
Member States are responsible for their internal security. This is the way it has been and this is the way it should be.
What has changed is the nature of the threat and risks. In the past, crises were more one-dimensional, but with globalisation and modernisation, threats and risks have become cross-border, cross-sectoral, interlinked, and thereby more difficult to grasp. So we do need to address them together.
Let me give a few examples.
Car theft, drug dealing, gang-related violence, and pick-pocketing are everyday phenomena for the man and woman on the street, but we have seen that these seemingly petty crimes can very often be traced back to international organised crime groups.
Violent extremism might not be something that most of us imagine is present in our daily lives, but reports show that individuals who feel alienated from mainstream society run the risk of turning to violent extremism.
They can turn into so called home-grown terrorism, such as the young man who tried to detonate a bomb on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day last year.
A more recent example is air cargo and the bombs that came from Yemen a few weeks ago. We should not expect this to be an isolated incidence. This time, a bomb was hidden in a printer in a cargo plane. What will the terrorists try next time? We need to figure that out before it is too late.
We also witness a rise in frequency and scale of disasters caused by force of nature or human error: the volcanic eruption in Iceland, the floods in Madeira and the leak of toxic sludge in Hungary.
All these threats have the potential to overwhelm multiple sectors in more than one Member State.
And yet Europe’s response has tended to be dispersed along sectoral lines – natural disasters, health, finance, organised crime, terrorism.
It is time to end the silo mentality.
The conclusion is just as obvious as it is simple. We must step up cooperation and coordination within the EU. No single Member State is able to respond to the threats of today and tomorrow on its own.
The EU has a crucial role to play in ensuring that Europe’s security policies deliver real results for our citizens, businesses, and societies.
This job has already begun, with considerable achievements done by EU institutions and Member States.
The lifting of internal borders in the Schengen area has been a massive boost for the freedom of European citizens – to a large degree thanks to common policies on police cooperation and management of the EU’s external borders.
Cooperation between police and prosecutors is bringing criminals to justice – such as those responsible, against whom charges were brought this year, for forcing over 168 children from a small town in Romania to beg on the streets of London.
And when it comes to crisis management, Member States are helping each other with equipment and personnel through the EU civil protection mechanism. In 2003, there were only seven requests to use the mechanism, compared to 28 requests in 2009.
To me, all of this shows that we need more – not less – action at EU level if we want to continue to strengthen European security.
This is the reason why we have proposed an Internal Security Strategy in Action.
So let us turn to the concrete actions that we suggest. I say we because you can be sure that without commitments from several of my colleagues in the Commission we will not be able to reach the necessary results.
Our internal security strategy proposes five simple but ambitious strategic objectives.
First, we want to disrupt international crime networks, which not only cause human misery but drain resources from the economy and public finances.
We want to return the profits of crime back to the taxpayer, and we will propose legislative action to achieve this. In other words, we want to "go after the money".
Second, we want to do more to prevent terrorism by empowering communities to spot and address radicalisation and recruitment. Several cities across the EU have developed successful tools in this area. I want the EU to help stimulate dialogue and spread their best practices.
We will also kick start discussions with the transport industry to safeguard further land and urban transport, while continuing to reinforce cargo security.
Third, we will take action to protect cyberspace by making citizens more aware of attempts at identity fraud and other computer crimes such as large scale attacks that could have severe consequences for our societies.
We will establish an EU cybercrime centre to bring together expertise and intelligence for how to tackle these rapidly evolving threats.
Fourth, I want border guards, police, and customs officials to cooperate much more effectively at the real hotspots on the EU external borders.
We will propose practical ways of using our external borders to fight criminal activities, whether they are human trafficking or trafficking in illegal and dangerous goods.
Finally, on crisis management, solidarity is our starting point. This is one of the new features of the Lisbon Treaty, which places a legal obligation on the EU and its Member States to assist each other when a Member State is the object of a terrorist attack or a natural or man-made disaster.
How this is done in practice will be set out next year in a proposal from the Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Cathy Ashton.
As part of this we should urgently develop a European Emergency Response Capacity for disasters. The EU needs to be better equipped to understand threats and risks and respond to crises.
Today, one of the most difficult issues is to gather all information in a crisis, since it is spread among many actors without anyone having the entire picture. In the Internal Security Strategy in Action we have decided to address this.
The idea is to link the different crisis centres to make sure that decision-makers, both within the institutions and in the Member States, can get the full picture.
This leads me to the third and final point. How do we ensure that this is not just another strategy that will add to the pile of EU strategies from the past and soon be forgotten?
If we want this to work properly, we must work together within the EU. We must emphasise the need for a shared agenda and a common commitment to use resources and expertise to tackle common threats.
Member States remain responsible for national security and law and order on their territory. A lot of the implementation of the strategy will be theirs, with the full and active support of EU agencies such as Europol, Frontex and Eurojust.
For our part, the Commission will work with the Parliament and the Council and particularly with the Committee on Internal Security, COSI, to ensure that implementation is effective throughout the EU.
We will monitor and evaluate progress and produce an annual report with recommendations for further action where needed.
We will ensure that the Commission is joined up internally in all its security-related activities – funding programmes, security research, and common policy regarding disaster response, customs, transport security, and environmental crimes.
We will enhance coherence between internal and external security by inviting the European External Action Service to a close cooperation.
We will also work closely with businesses, whether it is by developing high tech solutions to border surveillance or transport security, or fostering closer public-private partnerships such as in raising citizens' awareness of the threat of cybercrime.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I want to conclude by saying that this Internal Security Strategy in Action – if supported by the Council – will not be a Swedish Smörgåsbord where you can pick what you like.
The actions we propose are all important pieces that need to come into place if we want a well-functioning internal security for the EU.
A framework where we move away from the silo mentality and into a climate of close cooperation and shared responsibility.
A framework based on solidarity. At the same time, I want to underline that solidarity is a two way street that requires all actors to take necessary actions. There is no room for free-riders in EU security policy.
By implementing all actions in this Internal Security Strategy by the end of 2014, we will make Europe more secure.
We will never be able to prevent all crises, crime, and disasters, but we will be able to stand up to our citizens, businesses, and societies and say that we are doing all we can to increase European security.
We all have an important role to play in that process.
I look forward to our discussion. Thank you.