Europe must stand united against terror
2017-12-15 17:20:00 -
World News

The global threat to the European Union from terrorism requires a common EU response, writes Michael McGowan

The European Union is now wakening up to the harsh reality that Europe is facing a serious threat to its security from acts of terrorism using low-level technology, carried out with little more than a truck or a knife, from Nice to Berlin, London and Barcelona.


The threat crosses borders, with no respect for national boundaries, and is a common threat to all member states. The number of terrorist acts in 2017 alone has led the EU to the realisation that this common threat has to be dealt with by a common EU response.


Terrorism on the streets of Europe has also further convinced those who are committed to the European project of the need to give more priority for a global strategy on foreign and security policy.


It is ironic that at the very moment the EU is beginning to get its act together in developing a European security strategy, some are turning to extreme nationalism and the UK is planning to leave the EU.


We are up against international criminals, gun runners and drug pushers. They are global operators, and the answer to their threats in turn has to be global.


We have also been subject to an increasing number of cyber attacks that have struck many different countries, with potentially devastating impacts on our security and even raising questions about their potential threat to our democratic institutions.


The EU has a roll and responsibility to lead in protecting and promoting the health and safety of all its citizens from such threats. The EU Commission has responded by setting up a Security Commission for the first time, and law enforcement and intelligence links have been stepped up, as I have witness first hand on two recent visits to Europol at The Hague.


In addition, a new European Defence Fund has been established to which 23 member states have voluntarily signed up, and legislation has been introduced to cut down on access to the firearms and explosives used by terrorists.


The EU has provided guidance to member states following attacks on public places such as city squares, tourist sites, and entertainment and sporting venues.


Many in Europe have been taken aback by the numbers who have travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight for Daesh, besides those inspired to acts of murder by propaganda they have seen online. In response, the EU has recently issued a report of the Radicalisation Awareness Network set up to provide guidance for teachers, probations officers and others. The EU is also working directly with internet companies to ban, remove and legislate where necessary, and a great deal of co-operation is being developed on cyber threats.


There is a need for more working together to improve collective security, online and off, including more co-operation between member states on policy, whether internal or external, military or civilian.


The answer to this threat to security in Europe is not to turn to the far right, or for Britain to leave the EU, but for the countries of Europe to work more closely in the interest of all members states, the whole of Europe, and the international community.


Michael McGowan is a former MEP and president of the Development Committee of the European Parliament.

Michael McGowan



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