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European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery]

Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos at the launch of Europol's European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC)

Amsterdam, 25 January 2016

First of all,

I would like to thank my friend Ard van der Steur and the Dutch Presidency for hosting the informal meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs ministers, here in Amsterdam.

This morning, we have already had a first discussion about how to better share and exchange information in our fight against terrorism.

As you all know, Europe is facing several new and complex security threats, which are becoming more varied and more international in nature.

In 2015, too many innocent lives were lost, and too many lives were ruined by terrorism.

The horrors of Paris pushed us to drastically speed up our plans under the European Agenda on Security and, in particular, to make progress on information sharing.

We have taken several concrete measures since then, and one of them was the creation of a European Counter Terrorism Centre within Europol.

This is an initiative which carries great promise. We want the Centre to pool, streamline and increase information sharing between Member States in their fight against terrorism.

Because in challenging times like these, we must work together, and not in isolation.

We want the Centre to reinforce Europol's counter-terrorism capabilities as a platform for Member States to increase information sharing and operational coordination.

We want the Centre to focus in particular on foreign terrorist fighters, the trafficking of illegal firearms and terrorist financing.

We want the Centre to provide quick and comprehensive support in investigations on major terrorist incidents in the EU.

The goal of the European Counter Terrorism Centre is to assist and support Member States, not to duplicate or compete with their work.

The support of the centre will rely on optimising the use of all existing instruments and databases in the fight against terrorism and organised crime.

I will leave it to Rob Wainwright, the Director of Europol, who was the driver for the swift creation of the Centre, to explain the practical details.

But let me be clear: providing security to our citizens is a collective responsibility that we all share.

The European Counter Terrorism Centre and Europol are there to assist and to facilitate this work.

All members of the 'security community' (intelligence, law enforcement, border guards and customs), can be confident that the information they share via the Centre will be fully protected and handled with care.

Essentially, what we're launching here today will help strengthen trust, especially among the Member States.

The European Counter Terrorism Centre and all the instruments that we are constructing can only be effective if they are built on trust.

Collectively, we are all safer.

The sooner we realise that, the faster we will ensure the security of our citizens.

To ensure that terrorism will never prevail, we need to strengthen trust among EU citizens, between EU citizens and their governments, between Member States, and trust towards the EU, its institutions, and its agencies.

Rest assured that the European Commission will do everything possible to foster this.

Thank you.


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