The EU and its Counter-Terrorism Policies after the Paris Attacks

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Series Details No. 84, 27 November 2015
Publication Date 27/11/2015
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This paper examines the EU’s counter-terrorism policies responding to the Paris attacks of 13 November 2015. It argues that these events call for a re-think of the current information-sharing and preventive-justice model guiding the EU’s counter-terrorism tools, along with security agencies such as Europol and Eurojust. Priority should be given to independently evaluating ‘what has worked’ and ‘what has not’ when it comes to police and criminal justice cooperation in the Union. Current EU counter-terrorism policies face two challenges: one is related to their efficiency and other concerns their legality. ‘More data’ without the necessary human resources, more effective cross-border operational cooperation and more trust between the law enforcement authorities of EU member states is not an efficient policy response. Large-scale surveillance and preventive justice techniques are also incompatible with the legal and judicial standards developed by the Court of Justice of the EU. The EU can bring further added value first, by boosting traditional policing and criminal justice cooperation to fight terrorism; second, by re-directing EU agencies’ competences towards more coordination and support in cross-border operational cooperation and joint investigations, subject to greater accountability checks (Europol and Eurojust +); and third, by improving the use of policy measures following a criminal justice-led cooperation model focused on improving cross-border joint investigations and the use of information that meets the quality standards of ‘evidence’ in criminal judicial proceedings. Any EU and national counter-terrorism policies must not undermine democratic rule of law, fundamental rights or the EU’s founding constitutional principles, such as the free movement of persons and the Schengen system. Otherwise, these policies will defeat their purpose by generating more insecurity, instability, mistrust and legal uncertainty for all.

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Related Links
Council of the European Union: Policies: Fight against terrorism
European Commission: DG Migration and Home Affairs: Policies: Crisis and Terrorism
openDemocracy: Can Europe Make It?, 18.12.15: 5 rules for enhancing European counter-terrorism
ESO: Background information: Opinion: Europe and free speech: A race to the bottom?
Council of the European Union: Policies > Fight against terrorism > Response to foreign terrorist fighters and recent terrorist attacks in Europe
Europol: Press Release, 20.11.15: Ministers commit to reinforcing Europol's Counter-terrorism capabilities
Statewatch: Briefing, November 2015: Counter-terrorism: what the EU is discussing after the Paris attacks
openDemocracy, 23.11.15: The hard dilemma: counterterrorism and/or shallow freedom
openDemocracy: World Forum for Democracy: Freedom and Control in the Surveillance Age
ESO: Background information: Fighting terrorism at EU level, an overview of Commission's actions, measures and initiatives

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