New EU-wide rules aimed at combating terrorism were approved by the European Parliament on February 16.
“We need to stop the perpetrators before they commit these acts rather than regretting the fact that there have been attacks,” said Parliament’s lead MEP Monika Hohlmeier (EPP, DE) in the debate ahead of the vote. “We have struck a good balance between improving security and strictly upholding fundamental rights, because there is no point in having security without rights”, she stressed.
The directive, informally agreed by the European Parliament and Council in November 2016, was approved by 498 votes to 114, with 29 abstentions.
According to the text, the list of criminal acts has been extended to include: travelling abroad to join a terrorist group and and/or returning to the EU with the aim of carrying out a terrorist attack, recruiting for terrorism, training or being trained for terrorism, aiding, abetting or attempting to carry out an attack, public incitement or praise of terrorism, and financing of terrorism and terrorist groups.
The new directive also includes provisions to ensure immediate assistance to victims and their relatives after an attack. For example, EU member states should ensure that support services are in place to help families find out which hospital their relative has been taken to, and help victims to return to their home countries, if they have been caught in an attack while visiting another EU country.
Also on February 16, the European Parliament approved new rules to step up external border checks with a view to improving the EU’s internal security.