The European Union is more effective security measures

The European Commission today presented its first report on the internal security policy initiated a year ago.

As security threats emerge and evolve, the EU must be ready to respond. In July this year, a right-wing extremist in Norway carried out a devastating terrorist attack. In August, public authorities in the UK seized 1.2 tonnes of cocaine in a record haul. Across the EU, cyber attacks increasingly wreak havoc on public and private computer systems. These are stark reminders of the importance of taking action to counter threats to internal security.

A fresh Eurobarometer opinion poll shows that four out of ten Europeans want the EU to do more to tackle the security challenges outlined in the ISS. Many Europeans also believe that the threats will intensify over the next three years, with cybercrime seen as the security challenge most likely to worsen (see MEMO/11/829).

They are not far off the mark, as the ISS report shows that there are at least three emerging threats of particular concern. Firstly, the internet, now an integral and indispensable part of our everyday lives, is becoming an online facilitator for a wide range of criminal activities and a vehicle for terrorist propaganda. Secondly, the impact of the ongoing economic crises means that public authorities have fewer resources available to combat internal security threats. Thirdly, recent developments in the EU’s neighbourhood, including the overwhelmingly positive, democratic developments of the Arab Spring, have created considerable movements of people. This, in turn, puts pressure on the EU’s external border and, in some cases, creates conditions for increased criminal activity.

In 2012, as a concrete follow up to the priorities identified in the ISS, the EU Commission will, amongst other measures, adopt a package on confiscation and recovery of criminal assets, organise a high level conference on countering violent extremism and develop an overarching European strategy for Internet security.

As part of the Stockholm Programme, in November 2010, the Commission adopted the Internal Security Strategy in Action and outlined five priorities for the EU for the coming four years (see IP/10/1535 and MEMO/10/598).

The first annual report, released today, highlights progress in the following areas:

- The fight against organised crime: Significant progress has been marked by the Commission’s proposal for EU legislation on the collection of Passenger Name Records on flights entering or leaving the EU and the anti-corruption package, adopted in June 2011. Further progress is needed on judicial and law enforcement cooperation, and on the development of an administrative approach to combating serious crime.
- Terrorism and radicalisation: The Commission set up a European Radicalisation Awareness Network and adopted a Communication on an EU Terrorist Financing Tracking System. Further efforts are needed in relation to a framework for administrative measures on the freezing of terrorist assets and the improvement of land transport security.
- Cybercrime: Progress has been made towards setting up a European Cybercrime Centre and Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERT). In the future, several Member States will need to take urgent action to ratify the Budapest Convention which provides a framework for international cooperation in this area.
- Border management: Significant progress has been made in 2011 with the launch of the Visa Information System (VIS); the deployment of FRONTEX operations HERMES (migration flows in the Mediterranean) and RABIT (at Greek-Turkish border); as well as Commission proposals for an improved Schengen evaluation and monitoring and for the establishment of the European Border Surveillance system (EUROSUR) by 2013. In 2012, the Commission will make suggestions on how to improve the coordination of border checks carried out by different national authorities (police, border guards, and customs).
- Crisis and disaster management. Through Europol, Frontex, the EU Joint Situation Centre (SitCen) and the Commission’s Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC), the EU is able to draw on expertise in information gathering, analysis, threat assessment and emergency response in the different areas of internal security. In the future, Europe has to gradually move towards a coherent risk management policy, linking threat and risk assessment to policy formulation and implementation. Cooperation between Member States, the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) is essential in this respect.
- External dimension of EU security. Several initiatives were developed in 2011 to foster inter-institutional cooperation and coordination on terrorism, trans-national crime and irregular migration in the Western Balkans, the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. The EEAS and the Commission also issued a Joint Paper on enhancing ties between the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and Freedom, Security and Justice (JHA) actors, including possibilities for cooperation between the CSDP police missions and Europol.

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