European Parliament debates on binding anti-terrorism measures

New Europe / Alexandros Michailidis

European Parliament Louise Weiss building in Strasbourg, France, 13 Feb. 2017

The proposals have already taken the national ministers approval the European Council’s trilogue procedure and await their final ratification by the European legislators.


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MEPs are expected to vote on the latest proposals of the European Commission regarding the Security Union on Thursday’s voting session.

German European People’s Party (EPP) MEP, Monika Hohlmeier, has drafted the European Parliament’s position on the changes, suggesting that the changes presented will help the EU’s member states to cope better with a constantly changing security landscape.

According to Hohlmeier’s report, the new legislation proposal will make the life of the so-called “foreign fighters” difficult, as travelling for terrorist purposes, terrorist training and funding terrorist activities, will be illegal under EU law when the changes will be adopted.

The measurements mostly focus on the Schengen area, giving the U.K., Denmark, and Ireland an opt-out option. The rest of the 25 member stats will have to comply with the reforms of their security sector within 18 months.

Hohlmeier suggests that the measures will assist the EU in its fight against radicalisation and the creation of terror propaganda. According to the rapporteur, the text agreed at the trilogue that it “strikes a good balance” between anti-terrorism fight and EU citizens’ rights to free expression.

The EU’s executive arm, U.K. Commissioner Sir Julian King, seems content with the final text, as this will assist Europeans in fighting terror, while the threat against the EU keeps changing and evolving.

The changes will further allow the EU to align with the recommendations in the Council of Europe’s Convention on Terrorism. Furthermore, the new legislation would be binding for member states to act when they receive information regarding potential terror suspects and threats.

As for the MEPs vote on Thursday, the Parliamentarians have raised concerns over the ability of all member states to comply with the changes on time, as a partial implementation of the proposal will not give any results. French Socialist Christine Revault D’Allonnes Bonnefoy’s remarks said exactly that, as she warned that the final text measures will only be effective if the relevant EU member states fully comply.

While Austrian EPP MEP Heinz Becker says he is glad to see the European Parliament is “pulling in the same direction” as the European Commission, his colleague from the Left MEP Cornelia Ernst from Germany, opposes the changes, as they go “far too far”. “Fighting terrorism cannot just be dealt with by judicial means,” she says, calling for better cooperation and better trained police”.

French Eva Holy of the Greens / EFA points out that anti-terrorism laws are “very often misused” to “step on our liberties”, asking for the list of terror-related offences not to be lengthened any further, as it already contains “too many concepts that are too vague”.

ALDE’s Czech Petr Jezek gives his support to the plans, as they will help create a “truly European approach to fighting an increasingly transnational threat,” asking for “harmonised judicial tools” and more cooperation between EU member states on tackling anti-terror activities.

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