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Towards an EU Strategy for Collective Security

“Towards an EU Strategy for Collective Security - Can governments respond to global terrorism with a collective policy?”

New Defence Agenda Conference
Brussels, 3 February 2005

The question to be tackled allows me to touch on the two approaches towards fighting terrorism: on the one hand a military approach that includes also post-intervention scenarios, and therefore peace-keeping capabilities, in conflict regions as well as the criminal justice approach which views the fight within a law enforcement framework. These two approaches are not at all in contradiction. Nor are they the only ones. We are for instance intent and have already started working on examining the social, psychological and anthropological causes of radicalisation and recruitment to terrorism in Europe.

Europe refuses to accept the terrorists’ self-declared status of “warriors”. We see them as criminals who perpetrate violence and terror on innocent people to advance their ‘cause’. This “cause” never can be justified.

Article 3 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”. Terrorism is a crime against these fundamental and universal rights. We believe that this crime must be fought by the law and within the law. We also believe that, in this fight, the greatest strength of our democratic societies resides in democracy itself and that our most valuable and powerful resource is our citizens.

My opinion is that suicide bombing can be considered as a crime against humanity.

We believe in certain basic requirements for prevailing over terrorism, with the following three considered as fundamental:

• The first and most crucial element is the civic and democratic support of our societies and our citizens.

• The second is our unequivocal and uncompromising resolve to uphold the values and institutions which make us what we are: Democracy, Human Rights, the Rule of Law.

• The third is unity of purpose and of action within Europe and in the world at large;

The other two requirements - effective intelligence and law enforcement – are instruments which are essential to pursue such goals and the notion of “intelligence led law enforcement” guides the EU’s efforts in this field and links the two. Intelligence and law enforcement can only be effective if they are trusted by the citizen and subject to judicial and political control. Moreover, in our societies they can only be effective in close cooperation with counterparts in third countries.

The EU is striving to spread this concept of intelligence led law enforcement via concrete measures at European level as well as in cooperation with third countries. At EU level, for instance we are trying to get the secret services of Member States to work more together and the same goes for the law-enforcement authorities of the Member States. This is however not enough. We are also trying to ensure that information flows smoothly and quickly between the intelligence services and law-enforcement authorities within each particular Member State as well as at European level i.e. between Europol and the Situation Centre (or ‘SitCen’) which is a body within the General Secretariat of the Council. The EU Constitution that still awaits ratification by all the Member States will make it easier to progress in integrating European intelligence and law enforcement efforts.

Regarding the need to develop unity of purpose at the international level, I would like to underline the EU’s commitment to support and strengthening multilateral cooperation, as we need to ensure a comprehensive global response to terrorism and the other security threats facing us. We will continue to support the key role of the United Nations in coordinating this global effort, with a particular focus on supporting UN efforts to ensure universal adherence to and full implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions. In order to support third countries to develop their capacities to combat terrorism and implement the UN resolutions, we are already in the process of mainstreaming additional counter-terrorism elements into our technical assistance programmes. This assistance will include supporting third countries to develop their law enforcement capacities. We systematically include counter-terrorism clauses in EU agreements with third countries, which involves both parties reaffirming the importance of the fight against terrorism and to co-operate in the prevention and suppression of acts of terrorism.

We are also seeking ways of ensuring synergies between external and internal threat assessments and how to increase their usefulness in our policy-making. The next obvious step would be to reach international agreements on this.

Furthermore, allow me to point out the very successful cooperation between the EU and the US in fighting terrorism. We generally share the same objectives, as can be evidenced by the six agreements concluded since 9/11 in three areas:

• police cooperation: two cooperation agreements were concluded between Europol and US law enforcement agencies, one facilitating inter alia exchange of liaison officers, the other allowing for the exchange of personal data.

• judicial criminal cooperation: this area saw the most remarkable success with the signature at the EU-US Summit in June 2003 of innovative agreements on extradition and mutual legal assistance.

• border controls, travel document security and migration management: Two agreements were signed (spring 2004): one on container security (CSI) and one on the transfer of passenger data (PNR). The latter allows the transferring of certain personal data, while safeguarding the citizens’ fundamental rights. The European Parliament, however, has taken a different view and it is now for the European Court of Justice to pass a final judgement.

Moreover, at the EU-US Summit in June 2004 a comprehensive Joint Declaration on Combating Terrorism was adopted that will serve as a roadmap for cooperation in the short-to-medium term. Particular emphasis is placed on terrorism financing, sharing of information between law enforcement and intelligence communities and secure travel documents (biometrics). Therefore, the structures for intensifying our concerted efforts are in place but a number of challenges lie ahead of us, notably the issue of sharing of information/data protection as well as travel document security, i.e. the incorporation of biometric identifiers, and visa requirements. As to the latter, we will continue to press for reciprocal visa free travel for short stays between the US and the whole of the EU.

The EU does not exclude that in particular circumstances military force might be required as part of a response to terrorism. The EU works hand in hand with the main international organisations like the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe that have an enormously important role to play in maintaining world peace and security. NATO can also play a very important role either in the military intervention itself or in the aftermath of an intervention in the role of a peace-keeper. I just mention the very successful role that NATO has played and it’s still playing in Afghanistan.

Additionally, the EU and NATO are examining possible ways of cooperation in the area of civil protection against CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) terrorism. This is a possible area where the respective roles of the EU and NATO could complement each other.

The EU is developing a long-term strategy to address the root causes of terrorism, particularly any connection between radicalisation and terrorist recruitment. It is mobilising its resources, gathering the rich and various expertise within its different services, in order to prepare a comprehensive policy document on the subject. COM will leave no stone unturned in the process. Such a strategy will include the promotion of cross-cultural and inter-religious dialogue and will mainly focus on problems relating to Islamic fundamentalism. However, let me be clear: the fact that some dangerous individuals pose a threat to our societies should not call into question the largely successful process of migrant Community integration.

In Communication 698/04 the Commission postulated that the Union’s overall approach to the fight against terrorism should not only be integrated – drawing on all relevant policies – but also inclusive – involving all social actors. The Council and the European Council have subscribed to that concept:

The European Council reiterated its determination to combat the continuing terrorist threat through a comprehensive and integrated approach reinforcing both internal and international cooperation, in accordance with the principles on which the European Union is founded.

Democracy and respect for fundamental rights must not be allowed to be undermined by terrorism. Efforts to combat terrorism must respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. The European Council stressed the importance of promoting respect based on universal values, tolerance, inter-faith and cross-cultural dialogue and full participation in society by all. (17 Dec. Concl.)

The Commission will focus on the understanding and prevention of radicalisation and on “protecting fundamental rights from those who aim to attack them by violence”.

Furthermore, the Communication 698/04 indicated that the Commission would draw “inter alia on the expertise of the European Monitoring centre on racism and xenophobia, experts and researchers” [which competencies will be extended to become the European Agency for Fundamental Rights]. The Commission favours in this regard cooperation with third country experts; notably US ones.

As part of the Commission’s contribution to the work of the EU on preventing terrorism, we are also examining the role that Development Assistance can play in eroding the support base for terrorist networks through its focus on poverty reduction, land reform and good governance.

All these actions reveal that Europe is transforming itself from a security consumer into an aware security producer.

President Bush’s victory in the Mid Term elections gave his foreign policy a new impulse, a direct shift towards a political approach more devoted to dialogue and reciprocity. The transatlantic relationship is now undergoing a new deal. There are new and meaningful announcements concerning this new American approach, particularly looking at the way President Bush addressed Europe in his State of the Union speech . Europe, in his words, is precisely indicated as “the European Union”, a consistent player in the political arena.

© Scoop Media

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