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Member of the European Commission responsible for Home Affairs
The EU Internal Security Strategy – what does it mean for the United States?
Discussion organised by The Center for Transatlantic Relations
Washington DC, 8 December 201
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure that I am here today to talk to you about how to develop cooperation between the EU and the US. It is an issue very dear to my heart. Let me also say how much I appreciate the work done by Dan Hamilton and the Center for Transatlantic Relations for their important work in this regard.
While coming from Sweden, I partly grew up in Paris. And I still remember when, as a young child, my parents took me and my sister to Normandy to see the enormous cemeteries of the soldiers who fought in World War ll.
Some of my classmates' family members were buried there. This helped form my strong pro-European stance. And, as I grew older, it gave me an understanding of the role the US played and still plays for security in the world.
The threats against our security today are numerous; we have more examples of that than we would wish. The bomb in a printer from Yemen was just one reminder out of many.
And let's not be naïve. The terrorists and organised criminals are not stupid. While we try to fix the current loopholes they are already planning new attacks with means our radar probably has not yet picked up.
We must go from being reactive to proactive. In defence matters soldiers too often base the organisation and the analysis on the latest war and not the coming one. Let's not do the same mistake when it comes to internal security.
Global threats require global solutions. And the need for international cooperation has never been bigger.
One thing that always strikes me in discussions with American friends, whether they represent the Government or think tanks, is the very result oriented approach you have.
The title of this seminar is a good example. Your focus is "what's in it for us".
I find it refreshing. Be concrete and don't complicate things.
So on the way over the Atlantic I thought about what the next chapter on security would be in our transatlantic cooperation.
We need to look beyond the immediate future and keep the long term perspective, especially when you deal with the European Union. It is often slow to start but when set in motion, things happen, including with the United States which is our natural and closest partner.
Our cooperation has been developing at a swifter pace over the past years. We have constant contacts and dialogues on many issues, from migration and refugees to border management, from aviation security to combating cyber attacks and cyber crime.
You can find further evidence of this close cooperation in the Joint Statement issued on the occasion of the EU-US Summit held on 20 November 2010 in Lisbon where Security issues were high on the agenda.
We have had many important achievements in the recent years. But I would like to refer to the most recent, the successful negotiations of a new so-called TFTP agreement, which covers the processing and transfer of financial messaging data.
This was the first dossier that I had to handle on my very first day as Commissioner for Home Affairs in February. As you may know, the European Parliament voted down the previous provisional TFTP agreement. It has assertively exercised its new prerogatives under the Lisbon Treaty. As from now the consent of the European Parliament is required for international agreements.
And the TFTP vote was the first test. It was not a good first day at work, but through that experience we all learnt a lot and thanks to close and inclusive cooperation, important improvements in the agreement and constructive engagement from the European parliament, the EU member states and the US; I managed to negotiate a new agreement that was approved with a large majority just before the summer break. The TFTP is a key instrument in the fight against terrorism.
It is important to understand that we now have a new institutional framework in the EU. The US has a strong Congress; the EU now has a reinforced Parliament.
And we have, on both sides, to learn how to deal with it, as we are likely to see again with the next negotiations on a new Agreement between the EU and the US on Passenger Name Records. I am confident that we will succeed as we did with the TFTP agreement.
The EU Commission has been mandated to negotiate such an agreement and I will launch the opening of the negotiations tomorrow with Janet Napolitano. We are looking forward to initiate negotiations and find a satisfactory solution for both EU and the US citizens, which meets security demands while ensuring the respect for protection of personal data.
This would allow us to establish a more effective flow of data crucial for law enforcement purposes.
It is clear that we need to strengthen our cooperation to enhance security on both sides of the Atlantic. We need to exchange information to fight serious crime and terrorism, but doing so while guaranteeing the respect of fundamental rights and protection of personal data and privacy.
We need more security and more privacy. It is my firm belief that these two objectives mutually reinforce each other, and that we can find common grounds despite a difference of perception on both sides of the Atlantic on the importance of data protection, for historical reasons.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In the same year as the US published its quadrennial review of the Homeland Security Strategy, the EU has now defined for the first time an Internal Security Strategy for Europe.
We took inspiration from the US's comprehensive approach – both to understanding the main challenges, and to identifying what needs to be done and by whom.
Two weeks ago I published our proposal for putting the EU's Internal Security Strategy into action. With this Strategy the commission wants to set the direction we want Europe to take for the coming four years. We identify 5 strategic objectives for the EU's activities and policies. Each objective is followed by concrete proposals where the EU can bring added value to member states own efforts.
I'm not going to go into details and describe all 41 actions, but I invite you to go on the web and study it.
The first challenge is organised international crime. We witness more and more the connection between everyday phenomena such as car theft, drug dealing and gang-related violence with international organised crime groups.
These networks are causing human misery and draining resources on a scale which our economy and public finances can ill-afford at the best of times, let alone during our current difficulties.
We want to act locally, nationally and internationally to disrupt these networks. We are developing local techniques, with regulatory authorities and local government to prevent crime groups infiltrating the economy. We will need to do much more to “go for the money” that is finding better ways of freezing and confiscating assets and fight money laundering. We know that the criminal networks very easily move money and assets between the European countries.
We will also put in place a European system for analysing airline passenger name record data for criminal investigation.
The next area I would like to highlight is counter-terrorism.
As recent events have amply demonstrated, terrorist narratives have the potential to radicalise young people in both Europe and the US.
Terrorism is no longer – if indeed it ever was – something which threatens us from outside our borders only.
The threat of 'home-grown terrorism' is a real one for our societies. The tools and expertise for addressing the causes and symptoms of violent radicalisation lie primarily at local community level.
Here, our ongoing dialogue, notably through the informal EU-US counter-violent extremism action group, is of great value.
We are putting in place actions for Europe-wide cooperation in spotting and dealing with terrorist radicalisation and recruitment.
This will involve setting up a European radicalisation awareness network which will bring together community workers, local government, academics and police, enabling them to share experiences and learn from one another what works and what doesn’t.
And we are going to do much more at EU level to secure our transports infrastructure, land and urban as well as air, by better cooperation on threat and risk assessments and by working with industry to find effective solutions.
I want the EU's activities in this field to feed into the work of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF) which the US has proposed to launch in 2011. We will be an active partner in supporting the US in shaping its format and participation.
A third area is cyberspace.
Cyber security is quickly becoming an urgent issue for all of us on both sides of the Atlantic; whether as private citizens using the internet, as businesses, or as politicians with responsibility for protecting our critical infrastructure.
This is a global issue. That is why I am so optimistic about what can be achieved together through the EU-US working group on cyber security and cybercrime that was agreed at the recent Summit. The terms of reference of this working group will be approved tomorrow at the EU-US ministerial on JHA where I will discuss it with Janet Napolitano and Eric Holder. I see this group as taking forward issues stemming from the EU's Internal Security Strategy.
European law enforcement is taking action, together with the industry, to protect cyberspace by making citizens more aware of attempts at identity fraud and other computer crimes.
We have to raise awareness of cybercrime, but also on how to report incidents of cyber crime.
We are going to set up an EU cybercrime centre to bring together expertise and intelligence for how to tackle these rapidly evolving threats.
And we are requesting all national governments in the European Union to ensure that they have in place computer emergency response teams for dealing with cyber attacks.
These were the three areas, terrorism - cyber and organised crime - I wanted to highlight today but there are more areas where we can cooperate, including border management.
I want border guards, police and customs officials in the Schengen area to cooperate much more effectively at the hotspots of the EU external borders in order to better fight human trafficking, trafficking in illegal and dangerous goods, and other activities.
Furthermore, we will continue our work to establish a genuine European border surveillance system and to have joint reports on criminal activities so we can have a better basis for joint operations.
We also have a mutual interest in exchanging good practices in this area with our US friends, which is being done in our EU-US high level working group on migration issues. This platform was launched last April and we are already cooperating on the tricky issue of biometrics.
No matter what area we talk about you cannot today achieve internal security without a link to external security.
As you can see and as said in the Internal Security Strategy, the US is our major strategic partner in the fight against terrorism and transnational organised crime. We will continue to work closely together to put into practice our shared values to confront our common challenges.
And this brings me, finally, back to the question on how we write the next chapter in our transatlantic cooperation on security.
I think the answer is just what I have talked about today. Besides addressing global security we need to focus much more on cooperation on internal security.
An attack on Baltimore is as much an attack on Berlin or Brussels. Our societies are so open and interlinked that no matter if an attack occurs in Europe or the US we are both paying the price.
So only by working together will we be able to counter terrorism.
Only by working together will we be able to fight the cyber threat.
And only by working together will we be able to fight serious and organised crime.
With the excellent cooperation I have with my US counterparts I have therefore no doubt that we will succeed in taking cooperation to the next step.
And with our recent strategies I see a great opportunity here. But it is urgent and it needs to include a joint vision for the coming years. That will be the new chapter on internal security between the EU and the US.