On 3 November 2020, Italian Members of the European Parliament: Silvio Berlusconi and Antonio Tajani of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“In a Europe already beset by the pandemic, ISIS die-hard and other Islamist terrorist threats are once more raising their ugly head. Recent attacks in France and Austria have struck at the very heart of Europe, claiming innocent lives in places symbolising our Judeo-Christian identity, that is to say synagogues, churches and schools.
The EU must accordingly focus on measures to combat terrorism and uphold freedom of religion and our European identity.
In view of this:
1. Can the Commission say what steps it intends to take to make us safer, protect our cultural heritage and uphold our fundamental right to freedom of religion?
2. What action will it take to coordinate intelligence between the different Member States more effectively?
3. What measures will it take to improve intelligence sharing with the Russian Federation, the US, Israel and other parties to the Abraham peace accords?”
On 28 January 2021, Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “Member States are primarily responsible for the implementation of counter terrorism measures and protecting citizens and public spaces, including places of worship. The Commission supports Member States in their efforts by implementing a comprehensive set of actions aiming to protect public spaces and critical infrastructures, restricting access to dangerous materials, improving coordination and cooperation at EU level, and facilitating the exchange of good practices. The 2020 EU Security Union Strategy lays out the Commission’s commitment and vision for the future fight against terrorism and, following up on this strategy, the Commission has published on 9 December 2020 a new EU Agenda on Counter-terrorism, with measures to anticipate, prevent, protect from and respond to terrorist threats. Improving the protection of places of worship and the cooperation with and among religious communities is one of the proposed measures. The Commission is also making available EUR 20 million to projects that will improve the security of public spaces including, in particular, places of worship.
National security remains the sole responsibility of the Member States. This applies to agreements between the intelligence services of Member States and other countries.”
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