EU announces fresh investment in tackling terror

The EU has announced that it will put €18.5 million this year and next year over €100 million of funding towards tackling terrorism.

EU commissioner Julian King, speaking in Brussels, said the funding would go to help national, regional and city authorities “protect public spaces.”

The British official said, “We will also provide the guidance and assistance to help them do so effectively.”

The funding, he said, was part of a “significant package of counter-terrorist methods” unveiled by the commission.

King, who is responsible for the security union, added, “We are also taking action to make it harder to get the ingredients to TATP, the explosive most often used in recent attacks. In some member states, it is still legal for the public to buy the chemicals used, even in high concentrations.”

He told a security conference, “We will be looking into new ways to help law enforcement track detect and prosecute serious crimes, to find out about suspects’ financial assets abroad, and to support them when they encounter encryption during investigations.

“These measures should help make a contribution to keep our citizens secure.”

The conference heard that the UK alone has been the target of four terrorist attacks already this year, including in Manchester which killed 22 people. Other attacks have taken place in 2017 in Finland, Spain, France and Sweden.

The two-day meeting, which concluded on Thursday, was organised by the Brussels-based Counter Extremism Project and heard from several experts on the scale of the terrorist threat in Europe, including the cyber threat and online hate speech.

King told the audience, “The challenge is to meet it without living amid the fear and mutual suspicion, which is exactly what the terrorists want; without compromising the very values which we are defending; openness, tolerance, freedom.

“The primary responsibility to respond to threats and protect citizens is national. But the EU’s member states have also recognised that the EU can and should play an active role on security. Over recent years, we have been doing more and more collectively – and it is now clear that the security of one EU member state is inextricably linked with the security of all.”

He added, “We know we can't completely stop all attacks, but we can make it harder for those who are seeking to cause us harm, by closing down the space in which they operate; closing down loopholes in terms of movement, means, money.

“That is what I have been focused on in the slightly longer than one year that I have been in post.

“And it is what we have reinforced in the significant package of counter-terrorist methods we unveiled today.

“The fact is, terrorists do not sit still. They change their methods.  We want to be ready to adjust too.  To learn the necessary lessons and respond.

“The main threat we face, although not the only one, remains violent jihadism.”

King said that while the warning signs are sometimes easier to spot – those who have recently travelled to Syria or Iraq, for example, to fight for ISIS – on other occasions, vulnerable people – usually young men – can be radicalised without leaving their own community.

“No longer,” he went on, “do we see well-organised structures executing well-planned plots using complex weapons; it may well be people who have been radicalised online, carrying out acts of terror with a home-made bomb, a truck, or even a knife.

“At risk are not just the "traditional" targets of terrorism —aircraft, or government buildings — but public spaces, transport hubs, tourist destinations.”

He said the message from the EU was: “We are acting in response to this threat.”

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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