Commissioner Johansson at the Security Union Package press conference

Commissioner Johansson at the Security Union Package press conference

On 9 December 2020, Commissioner Johansson of the European Commission made the following remarks at the Security Union Package press conference.

Terrorist crimes aim to scare, threaten and divide our societies.

But the European Union and the Schengen area is built on Freedom, Security and Justice.  Our society is strong because it is free, because it is democratic and because it is open.

These values must be respected, and when threatened they must be defended.

That’s why we present this Counter Terrorism Agenda today, focusing on fighting terrorists by anticipate, prevent, protect and respond to their actions.

With modern methods based on coordination between law enforcement – offline and online.

We are better prepared after 5 years.

Many decisions taken but need to push for implementation.

We won’t stop terrorism from Brussels alone. Member States do the real job, but we can provide co-ordination, facilitate cooperation and support with funding.

There are Five areas:

  1. Online
  2. Big Data
  3. Interoperability
  4. External border
  5. Research.

This is where the Commission can add value.

To Anticipate – proposed key actions

Better integration of strategic intelligence into the policy cycle.

Take forward new ways to develop risk assessment and peer review activities, including the on-demand deployment of EU Protective Security Advisors.

Strengthen early detection capacity through EU security research.

Terrorists develop new methods, and strike in new ways. In old times we had sniffer dogs, but now the biggest scent is online.

The Commission is ready to fund projects on for example new technologies like artificial Intelligence to find terrorist content online.

To prevent – proposed key actions

Video, even live streaming, of horrific attacks are weaponized.

Unfortunately terrorists use these as recruitment tools. This grim reality must be countered.

Tomorrow I will attend Terrorist content online trilogue between Commission Parliament and Council.

 I am confident we can have agreement before Christmas.

In July, Europol had a day of action against terrorist content online.  Nearly 2000 links to terrorist content on 180 platforms and websites were assessed for removal, including on bomb-making and how to evade detection.

We can support national networks of stakeholders and national centres and explore the creation of an EU Knowledge Hub on the prevention of radicalization.

We can make sure Member states share methods to de-radicalise people that really work.

I spoke at police Convention on Monday. They said with these proposals, you are doing the right thing. Identifying and sharing incriminating communication is essential. The ENCROCHAT case showed this. And Europol can be a HUB.

 To protect – proposed key actions

 CITIES

Cites are central to the counter-terrorism agenda. They are where the targets are – concentration of people and symbols. And they are where radicalization happens.

European cities are already doing a lot but would like to do more.

We can provide funding and best practice advice on making public spaces safer, including a security by design handbook.

EXTERNAL BORDER

We must know who is coming to EU, who is going and if they have a criminal record. Airports, seaports and land borders should be part of an integrated system that allows us to flag terrorist suspects.

Yesterday I concluded negotiations with EP and Council on the VISA Information System. This will allow mandatory checks across EU databases.

It will help us protect children from being trafficked.

We will revise the Advance Passenger Information Directive

Establish an information exchange system on refusals to grant authorizations for firearms

Member States must make sure that they:

  • Issue alerts in Schengen Information System (SIS) on suspected foreign terrorist fighters.
  • Urgently roll out the fingerprint search functionality in the SIS.
  • Swiftly implement Entry Exit system and the system to authorize and record visa-free travel (ETIAS).
  • Make sure that conviction records are shared (ECRIS-TCN).

To respond – proposed key actions

Provide guidance for the implementation of the EU Crisis Protocol.

Europol must be a hub around which police cooperation can fully enter the modern age.

Europol must be able to work with private parties.

We will prioritize a police cooperation code in 2021.

I am also pleased that there will be additional resources of EUR 180 million and 160 more Europol staff in the next MFFR.

Revise the Prüm Decisions – to improve exchange of fingerprints and DNA and possibly more.

Create a network of counter-terrorism financial investigators.

Support Member States to use battlefield information to identify, detect and prosecute returning Foreign Terrorists Fighter.

Fighting terrorism means developing quick reflexes in the real world and the digital space.

And for this to work, Europol can be like a central nervous system.

Entering SIS info, flagging firearm purchases, matching fingerprints, all of these are vital in that fight and depend on quick response time.

This Counter-Terrorism Agenda for the EU sets out the way forward.

I am very pleased to announce that the Commission will appoint a Counter-Terrorism Coordinator.

The task will be to coordinate the various strands of EU policy and funding in the area of counter-terrorism within the Commission. The work will also include cooperation and coordination with Member States, in collaboration with the Council’s EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, as well as the relevant EU Agencies, and the European Parliament.

Source : Not checked against delivery Security Union Package press conference (europa.eu)

Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/photos/data-security-keyboard-computer-1590455/

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