European Parliament resolution on anti-terrorism measures

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to Articles 2, 3, 6, 7 and 21 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and to Articles 4, 16, 20, 67, 68, 70, 71, 72, 75, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87 and 88 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–       having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Articles 6, 7, 8, 10(1), 11, 12, 21, 47-50, 52 and 53 thereof,

–       having regard to the Commission communication of 20 June 2014 on the final implementation report of the EU Internal Security Strategy 2010-2014 (COM(2014)0365),

–       having regard to Europol’s EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT) for 2014,

–       having regard to the resolution adopted by the UN Security Council on 24 September 2014 on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts (Resolution 2178 (2014)),

–       having regard to the EU Internal Security Strategy, as adopted by the Council on 25 February 2010,

–       having regard to its plenary debate of 28 January 2015 on anti-terrorism measures,

–       having regard to the informal JHA Council held in Riga on 29-30 January 2015,

–       having regard to its resolution of 17 December 2014 on renewing the EU Internal Security Strategy(1),

–       having regard to the statement of the informal JHA Council of 11 January 2015,

–       having regard to the conclusions of the JHA Council of 9 October and 5 December 2014,

–       having regard to the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator’s report to the European Council of 24 November 2014 (15799/14),

–       having regard to the Commission Work Programme 2015 (COM(2014)0910) of 16 December 2014,

–       having regard to the Commission communication of 15 January 2014 entitled ‘Preventing radicalisation to terrorism and violent extremism: strengthening the EU’s response’ (COM(2013)0941),

–       having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.     whereas the Treaty of Lisbon laid the foundations for the development of an EU security policy that is closely shared by the EU and its Member States, based on the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights;

B.     whereas the EU and its Member States have primarily a common responsibility to ensure the safety and freedom of European citizens and to take any appropriate measures to prevent life-threatening acts; whereas freedom and security are objectives that must be pursued in parallel, and whereas, in order to achieve freedom and security, anti-terrorism measures should be based on the principles of necessity, proportionality and respect for fundamental rights, and comply with the rule of law and international obligations;

C.     whereas terrorism is a global threat that needs to be tackled at local, national, European and global level in order to strengthen our citizens’ security, to defend the fundamental values of freedom, democracy and human rights and to uphold international law;

D.     whereas free movement within the Schengen area is one the most important legacies of the European construction; whereas our external borders are, indeed, one common external border;

E.     whereas the security situation in Europe has changed dramatically in recent years owing to new conflicts and upheavals in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood, the rapid development of new technologies, and the worrying rise of radicalisation that is leading to barbarous violence and terrorism;

F.     whereas the paradigmatic shift in the nature and modalities of terrorism, from internationalised, aligned and centralised organisations to more diffuse, pervasive and decentralised autonomous networks and cells of disaffected individuals, requires a multilateral and ambitious response;

G.     whereas the EU, and certain Member States in particular, are facing the severe and growing threat posed by the so-called ‘foreign fighters’, namely individuals who travel to a state other than their state of residence or nationality for the purpose of perpetrating, planning or preparing terrorist acts, or providing or receiving terrorist training, including in connection with armed conflicts;

H.     whereas the issue of ‘foreign fighters’ is not a new phenomenon, but the scale of it has dramatically increased, with over 15 000 men and women from more than 80 countries around the world, including an estimated 3 500 to 5 000 EU nationals, having left their homes to become foreign fighters with the outbreak of the war and violence in Syria, Iraq and Libya, posing an immense challenge to the security of EU citizens;

I.      whereas the recent attacks in Paris were atrocious and were yet another reminder of the threat to free and open societies posed by extremism and radicalisation; whereas those attacks were followed by united demonstrations of EU citizens standing up to show how important it is for them to defend the European Union’s fundamental values and to maintain the EU as a safe and secure society;

J.      whereas the modus operandi used in the recent terrorists attacks, and the sophisticated and military firearms and equipment used, raised the major issue of the financing of the activities of foreign fighters, the facilitating of their travelling, and the illicit trade in firearms;

K.     whereas terrorism is a global threat, affecting multiple countries, a recent example being the barbarous terrorist attack against the Maltese-owned Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli, Libya, where the United Nations support mission in Libya holds its meetings, killing at least nine people;

1.      Condemns forcefully and firmly the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, and expresses its sincere condolences and solidarity to the families of the victims of the atrocious terrorist attacks; recalls the EU’s fundamental responsibility in protecting and supporting all victims of terrorism across the Union, and therefore asks for justice, recognition and reparation for these victims;

2.      Stresses that addressing the threat posed by foreign fighters and terrorism in general requires an anti-terrorism pact based on a multi-layer approach, comprehensively addressing underlying factors such as radicalisation, developing social cohesion and inclusiveness and facilitating reintegration by promoting political and religious tolerance, analysing and counterbalancing online incitement to perform terrorist acts, preventing departures to join terrorist organisations, preventing and stemming recruitment and engagement in armed conflicts, disrupting financial support to terrorist organisations and individuals aiming to join them, ensuring firm legal prosecution where appropriate and providing law enforcement authorities with the appropriate tools to perform their duties with full respect for fundamental rights;

3.      Notes with concern the increasing use of the internet and communications technology by terrorist organisations to spread their hateful rhetoric, further radicalise disaffected persons and recruit more fighters to join terrorist organisations such as ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), Al-Qaeda and its various branches such as the Al Nusra Front in Syria, and commit terrorist acts; urges internet and social media companies to step up their cooperation with law enforcement authorities to restrict access to terrorist material online, and to detect and remove online terrorist propaganda, and calls on the Commission and the Member States to urgently intensify and promote awareness campaigns to counter radicalisation on the internet through a more forceful, proactive and creative effort aimed at developing targeted positive counter-narratives, as well as starting no-hate campaigns;

4.      Urges the Member States to effectively coordinate their immediate response to the growing threat of ‘foreign fighters’ by adopting common measures such as the withdrawal of EU passports in the case of dual nationality, confiscation of passports for a limited period of time, flagging the ID cards of jihadists, reintroducing authorisations to travel for minors, sharpening judicial prosecutions (for proselytising for terrorist organisations, and training in terrorist camps), setting up a blacklist of European jihadists and jihadist terrorist suspects;

5.      Stresses the urgent need to intensify the prevention of radicalisation and foster de‑radicalisation programmes by empowering and engaging with communities and civil societies at national and local level to stop the spread of extremist ideologies; calls on the Commission to strengthen the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN), which brings together all the actors involved in developing anti-radicalisation campaigns and setting up de-radicalisation structures and processes for returning foreign fighters, and to directly challenge extremist ideologies by providing positive alternatives;

6.      Points with great concern to the phenomenon of radicalisation in prisons; calls on the Member States to consider working towards the general isolation of radical Islamist inmates in prisons, and to improve prisons’ administrative systems so as to facilitate detection of detainees who are involved in the preparation of terrorist acts, monitor and prevent radicalisation processes and set up specific de-radicalisation programmes; encourages the Member States to exchange best practices on this matter, directly or through relevant EU agencies;

7.      Expresses its deep concerns about the fact that one of the Paris attacks was intentionally committed against European Jews and was therefore the atrocious result of a new form of anti-Semitism, which is threatening religious and ethnic diversity in the European Union; asks the Commission, therefore, to thoroughly examine the possible need for a revision of Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA in order to address more effectively hate preachers and the dissemination of severe forms of hate speech;

8.      Expresses its concerns about the spreading hate and extremist preaching in various Member States’ prayer rooms that are abused for radicalisation purposes, and points out its dramatic effects on the rise of fundamentalism in our societies; calls on the Member States to take the appropriate measures to firmly and closely monitor this phenomenon and to address the issue of recruitment and funding of imams from third countries;

9.      Stresses the need to intensify the dialogue with the Muslim community in order to unite our efforts to counter fundamentalism and terrorism propaganda;

10.    Calls on all Member States to prevent the movement of terrorist individuals by strengthening external border controls, checking travel documents in a more systematic and effective way, tackling illicit arms trafficking and fraudulent use of identity, and identifying risk areas;

11.    Underlines its concerns over reports of human traffickers facilitating the movement of fundamentalists and terrorist cells to Europe and calls on the EU to prioritise the fight against human trafficking networks and to further investigate these networks as one of the most lucrative sources of revenue for terrorist organisations; further stresses that terrorist organisations have diversified their revenue stream by using the sale and trafficking of women and children to fund their operations; firmly condemns these practices and urges the international community to tackle these activities seriously;

12.    Reiterates its attachment to free movement within the EU, and therefore fundamentally rules out proposals to suspend the Schengen system, and encourages Member States instead to tighten up existing rules that already include the possibility of temporarily introducing document checks, and to make better use of the SIS II system; underlines the importance of the new Schengen Evaluation Mechanism, and calls on the Commission to make full use of its prerogatives to ensure the proper implementation of the Schengen acquis;

13.    Asks the Commission to propose a harmonised definition of ‘foreign fighters’ and encourages the Member States to classify as a serious criminal offence, in their domestic law, the fact of travelling to a conflict area to join a terrorist organisation, on the basis of the definition proposed by the United Nations Security Council resolution, in order to make it possible for the judicial authorities to prosecute and penalise this offence where appropriate;

14.    Instructs its committee responsible, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, to proceed to the swift legislative consideration and adoption of the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) directive that was proposed by the Commission in 2011, and invites the Commission and the Council to make as a matter of urgency any fruitful suggestions with a view to swiftly reaching an agreement on an EU PNR directive, which would provide for the highest safeguards for EU citizens’ rights while ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of this tool for the fight against serious crime and terrorism, and to address the plenary in a timely manner;

15.    Calls on the Commission to present as soon as possible a new data retention directive, taking due account of the recent Court of Justice ruling on the data retention directive, which requires compliance with the principles of proportionality, necessity and legality in order to provide for the appropriate legal framework for law enforcement authorities to investigate, prevent and detect serious crime and terrorism networks;

16.    Invites the Member States to make better use of Europol’s unique capabilities by ensuring that their national units provide Europol with the relevant information in a more systematic and routine manner; asks for Europol to be entrusted with the specific task of identifying unlawful extremist or terrorist material or content online, and to refer it directly to internet companies and social media for removal; further supports the creation of a European counterterrorism platform within Europol to maximise its operational, technical and intelligence exchange capabilities;

17.    Reiterates its commitment to strengthening the measures for identifying, tracing and disrupting terrorism financing; calls on the Commission, therefore, to further consider introducing a legislative proposal for setting up a European terrorist financing tracking system (TFTS);

18.    Calls on the Commission to evaluate as a matter of urgency the existing EU rules on the movement of illegal firearms, explosive devices and arms trafficking linked to organised crime, and to fill the legal gap;

19.    Stresses the need to step up the effectiveness and the coordination of the criminal justice response through Eurojust, to harmonise criminalisation of foreign-fighter-related offences across the EU to provide a legal framework and to facilitate cross-border cooperation, to avoid prosecution gaps and to address the practical and legal challenges in the gathering and admissibility of evidence in terrorism cases, by updating Framework Decision 2008/919/JHA;

20.    Stresses the need to improve, intensify and accelerate global law enforcement information-sharing; in view of the new circumstances and the imminent terrorist threat, withdraws its request for a referral of the EU-Canada PNR agreement to the European Court of Justice for opinion and commits itself to the adoption of this agreement for stronger legal certainty for EU airliners and citizens; further underlines the merits of deploying all the appropriate tools for greater intelligence sharing and inter-agency cooperation with our closest allies, such as the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand;

21.    Believes that the EU must rethink the prevailing weakness that characterised earlier counterterrorism cooperation with countries of origin, transit and destination through which foreign fighters and the resources to support them have been channelled, such as the Western Balkans, Turkey, the Gulf countries and the Maghreb states, in order to unite our efforts to fight against terrorism through increased sharing of information and of lessons learned, to tackle illicit firearm trafficking, to trace terrorist financing, and to develop a new narrative to counter extremism and fundamentalism;

22.    Calls on the EU to actively promote a global partnership against terrorism and to work closely with regional actors such as the African Union, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League, in particular in countries neighbouring Syria and Iraq, as well as with the United Nations, notably its Counter-Terrorism Committee;

23.    Stresses that a comprehensive EU strategy on anti-terrorism measures must also make full use of its foreign and development policies in order to combat poverty, discrimination and marginalisation, to fight corruption and promote good governance and to prevent and resolve conflicts, all of which contribute to the marginalisation of certain groups and sectors of society and thus make them more vulnerable to extremist group propaganda;

24.    Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the parliaments of the Member States.