[email protected] on “EU responses to counter-terrorism: Are we tackling the challenges?”

As the year 2020 saw, yet again, a series terrorist attacks, on January 22 a [email protected] online event edition addressed concerns about the security of European citizens and the place of police personnel in safeguaring security.

As the year 2020 saw, yet again, a series terrorist attacks, on January 22 a [email protected] online event edition addressed concerns about the security of European citizens and the place of police personnel in safeguaring security. With the participation of experts from member trade unions of CESI and EU instutitons and authorities, the event explored in particular the latest developments in EU policy-making to counter terrorism and assessed to what extent EU action effectively contributes to the support of national security authorities and their personnel.

Christiane Hoehn, Principal Adviser to the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator (European Council), and Steven Lambert, Senior Specialist at the European Counter Terrorism Centre, contributed with insights from measures taken by the EU institutions and security authorities, referring, among others, to the latest decisions of the European ministers of interior to step up counter terrorist action through a more intensive use of large data-scale bases like the Schengen Information Systems, the strengthening of the mandates of EUROPOL and its ECTC (European Counter Terrorism Centre), and the intensification of the fight against the prevention of radicalisation and extremist behaviours online.

Participants recalled that the EU counter-terrorism agenda has advanced considerably since the 2015 Paris attacks and continues to sharpen the ways it addresses terrorist threats, with the 2020 Europol TE-SAT report stating that in 2019, two thirds of cases in which jihadist perpetrators planned violent action in the EU were prevented by security authorities. However, participants also voiced concersn that information exchange on terrorism and other forms of crime can still improve, further building on the achievements made over the last few years, in order to avoid that information remains scattered amongst agencies and institutions. In this regard, the forthcoming EU Police Cooperation Code was welcomed as a step forward towards more cross-border cooperation.

CESI law enforcement representatives from France, Germany and the Netherlands shared their expertise about the national responses to terrorism. The President and Vice-President of the CESI Trade Council ‘Security’, who also represent police trade unions in the Netherlands (Gerrit van de Kamp) and Germany (Hermann Benker), mentioned the need for the EU to show more leadership in addressing security threats, and for the domestic actors to step up their efforts in implementing the EU Security Union Strategy. Laurent Arnaudas, Secretary General of CESI’s affiliate FA-Police, the French Autonomous Public Service Federation, highlighted the vulnerability of France and the challenges for the French security authorities in the are of anti-terrorism. All trade union representative underlined the crucial importance of sufficient investment in counterterrorism. They stressed that, in addition to further improvements of cross-border cooperation, data and information exchange and access to electronic evidence, security authorities need adequate human resources and equipment and taht personnel must be well-trained and protected properly. Moreover, they emphasised the importance of a widespread public recognition by the society for the work of police and security forces to keep the cititzens safe.

The event took place in the context of CESI’s EU co-funded PULSER project which focuses on capacity-building and support for performing public services and public services personnel in Europe.