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European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery]

Security Union: Remarks by Commissioner King at the press conference on the anti-terrorism package

Brussels, 18 October 2017

In his state of the union address, President Juncker called for the EU to be stronger in fighting terrorism.

We can't stop all attacks, we can't deliver zero risk. But we can make it harder and harder for the terrorists and others who wish us ill to carry out their attacks. We have to accept that the terrorists don't stand still; they change and adapt their methods. We need to be ready to adapt our response.

The package that we have just agreed, that we are presenting today, tries to learn some of the lessons of the recent horrible attacks that we have experienced across the Member States.  It proposes a set of measures to build our resilience; to limit terrorists' access to the means to carry out attacks; and to strengthen international cooperation.

We have taken a series of measures over the last couple of years and in particular over the last year.

But as we have cut down the space in which terrorists can act, we have also seen a rise in so-called "low-tech terrorism".  Terrorism against public spaces.

We have seen a horrendous truck attack in Nice and that has been mimicked in Berlin, London, Stockholm, Barcelona.

Terrorists target places where people gather to live their lives: tourist sites, transport hubs, public squares, sports and concert venues. The mayors and representatives of over 60 cities who gathered together recently in Nice, underlined the need for us to work together to help protect such public spaces.

We believe that we can take action to make public spaces less vulnerable without completely changing their nature as fundamentally open spaces where we gather to live our lives. And we want to work with Member States, regional and local authorities to do that.

We have identified just under €20 million, €18.5 million from security funding this year to finance projects to do this, to work with Member States, local and municipal authorities to protect public spaces.

And we have identified a further €100 million from regional funding for next year.

Of course, some of the spaces that we are talking about are privately owned, so we also want to set up a forum to engage with the private sector to encourage the maximum cooperation between public authorities and the private sector.

Today we are also setting out an action plan on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear risks. I want to underline that we haven't got any new particular piece of intelligence and the risk of such attacks remains low, but we do need to be prepared, and we need to make sure that we have cut terrorists' ability to get access to that dangerous material.

Many of the recent attacks have either used or sought to use explosives.  The home-made explosive TATP remains a Da'esh's weapon of choice.

We already have across the EU a Regulation in place on so-called explosive precursors, limiting access to the ingredients that are mixed together to generate TATP.

Today we are presenting a Recommendation to make sure that the Regulation is being implemented by all Member States to the best effect.

We also are going to launch a fuller review of the Regulation to see whether actually we need to change the underlying Regulations.

We are setting out measures on encryption today. The wider debate about encryption will continue.  It obviously plays a vital part in our security- not least our cybersecurity, which we underlined in the Cybersecurity Package a couple of weeks ago.

But it can also be used, misused by criminals and terrorists.  So we believe there is more we can do to support law enforcement and judicial authorities when they encounter encryption in the course of criminal or terrorist investigations. So we have proposed a set of techniques, technical support and financial support to help the Member States authorities when they are trying, for example, to get encrypted information from a seized device, a telephone or a computer. Some Member States are more equipped technically to do that than others.  We want to make sure that no Member State is at a disadvantage by sharing the technical expertise amongst Member States and reinforcing the support that Europol can offer.

We are taking some further measures to look at terrorist finance. Of course this isn't new; we have done a series of proposals over the last couple of years on terrorist finance.  But we still need to address the obstacles to accessing financial transaction data in another Member State, particularly in the context of counter-terrorism investigations.  So we want to have a discussion about what we can do to make that easier and faster.

Tackling terrorism requires us to work with our neighbours and partners to reinforce international cooperation against the terrorist threat. That's the message I took from the meeting I mentioned in Nice, with city mayors from across Europe and from across the Mediterranean region; and again from the meeting earlier this week where I was with Dimitris Avramopoulos and the G6 Ministers with Morocco.

To enhance Europol's cooperation with third countries, we are recommending to the Council to open negotiations for reinforced agreements with Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey.

And, finally in its opinion of the end of the end of July, the European Court of Justice stated that our proposed PNR agreement with Canada could not be concluded in its current form. So we are recommending to the Council to launch negotiations with the Canadians to revise the agreement accordingly.

Separately, the Commission continues to support EU Member States in implementing our EU-wide PNR Directive. The obligations on Member States deriving from that Directive are, in our view, unaffected by the Court's Opinion.

The progress being made against Da'esh on the ground in Iraq and Syria is, welcome news. But as they lose ground, as they lose the foothold in their so-called Caliphate, I don't think we can expect the terrorist threat to go away. Indeed we should expect Da'esh to look for other ways to operate, to spread their propaganda and to wage what they regard as their struggle against our values and our way of life.

So we need to be ready to respond. The measures we're announcing today will help further cut the space in which terrorists of all kinds can operate.

And further step up our support to Member States to help them to counter these threats.

SPEECH/17/4042

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