The European Union counterterrorism policy before and after the 9/11 attacks: to what extent does the European Union have an integrated policy towards terrorism?

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This article analyzes the development of antiterrorist policy in the EU before and after the World Trade Centre/Pentagon attacks. The first part reviews the European states’ response to terrorism through interstate cooperation before 9/11. After the Maastricht Treaty, counterterrorism was inserted into the third pillar of the EU. The 9/11 attacks radically changed the international scene. The EU responded to the new situation by enhancing and improving already existing antiterrorism measures, as well as by introducing new ones. However, some counterterrorism tools concerning sensitive issues such as the exchange of personal information and intelligence services have not been endorsed by EU Member States. Therefore, the last part of this analysis attempts to evaluate the effectiveness of counterterrorism actions and to respond to the title question.


Undoubtedly, September 11 (9/11) was a turning point in world history. Events of that day not only shook the whole world, but also ushered in a new era of terrorism. Attacks on the World Trade Centre and Washington were not solely an American domestic issue, for the terrorists violated fundamental Western principals. Therefore, the ‘war on terrorism’ has become a problem that Western civilization has had to cope with. Post-modern terrorism is now treated as a political phenomenon and is considered to be the most serious threat in recent times. Since Europe took an active part in the war on terrorism by showing solidarity towards the victims of the 9/11 atrocities, as well as by supporting the United States in the war in Iraq, it has consequently become a target itself. At the onset, it should be noted that such a subject is related to the most practical strategies that the EU has adopted to this day, particularly in terms of security and law enforcement measures.

The aim of this article is, therefore, to show how the European Union (EU) reacted to terrorism before and after the September 11 attacks, focusing on how counterterrorism policy has changed and has been enhanced after 9/11. The first part of the article will describe how the European Communities member states dealt with their domestic terrorist problems through the establishment of the 3rd pillar. The second part will focus on a strictly descriptive approach towards legislative measures that the EU introduced after 9/11, showing how the EU was forced to redefine its approach. Thus, the second part gives us a legislative framework for assessing the results and effectiveness of already introduced actions and legislations. It deals with the many aspects of counterterrorism policy, from declarations to very practical programmes and solutions. The last chapter will be linked to the title of the thesis, and will try to answer the question: to what extent does the EU have an integrated policy towards terrorism? Hence, this last part will include the opinions of politicians and other authorities who have a general view on the matter. Do states cooperate more effectively ad hoc and within an intergovernmental framework, or should they speak with one voice on the international global arena? Moreover, it is attempted to show that terrorism is a very dynamic and difficult issue for the EU, touching on many of the most vulnerable political spheres like sovereignty, foreign policy and transatlantic relations.

European response to terrorist threat – origins of antiterrorist cooperation before 1992

The European states were concerned about terrorist actions organized by Arabic organizations fighting for independent Palestine moving into Europe. In September 1972, after the tragic events of the Munich Games, ministers of foreign affairs of the European Economic Community (EEC) met in Rome to discuss contemporary terrorist threats and to emphasize the need for collective responsibility for the security of Europe. The Arab extremist threat served as an incentive for antiterrorist agencies to cooperate. In 1971, security services from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, Italy, the USA and Israel established the Club of Berne. The Council of Europe also put the issue of terrorism on its agenda. The Council adopted a convention on the suppression of terrorism in 1977 . However, after the convention went into effect, another escalation of terrorist activity occurred. In 1977, the leader of the Confederation of German Employers’ Association, Hanns-Martin Schleyer, was kidnapped and murdered by the Red Army Faction, the same year that Arab terrorists hijacked a Lufthansa plane. In 1978, the Italian Red Brigades kidnapped and killed Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro. These events influenced the creation of the Club of Vienna in 1978, which consisted of internal affairs officers from Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Artur Gruszczak describes a few more initiatives that were launched to improve counterterrorist policy . In 1979, the Police Workgroup on Terrorism was set up by all nine countries of the European Community together with Austria, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The group coordinated technical cooperation (telecommunications, encryption and joint trainings) among antiterrorist police groups. Moreover, the same year, the American FBI initiated cooperation among antiterrorist officers by creating an organization called the Quantico Club. The club gathered together officers from Australia, France, Canada, Germany, Great Britain and the USA .

As described earlier, European and non-European states confronted the threat of terror proactively. However, the overriding issue of this analysis concerns how the European Community coped with terrorism at the time. International connections between terrorist organizations and their involvement with drugs and weapons production and trade laid the foundation for cooperation within the TREVI group, a formally independent entity not connected with existing European institutions. The group was established in 1975 as a formal organ of cooperation of ministers of justice and internal affairs of the EEC member states. Countering terrorism on a Europe-wide scale was undertaken by the subgroup TREVI I (1977). Their work involved the coordination, collection and analysis of information about certain terrorist organizations within an intergovernmental framework . A similar task was undertaken by the Unite de Coordination de la Lutte Anti-Terroriste (UCLAT), which was established in 1984 ‘to coordinate the activities of all agencies involved in the fight against terrorism, but it remains under the direction of the National Police’ . Other examples of intergovernmental cooperation include the Schengen Agreement from 1985 and the Schengen Convention from 1990, which were established by five states – Belgium, France, Luxemburg, Germany and the Netherlands. The Convention went into force in 1995 with the abolition of border controls, while at the same time strengthening external borders in order to prevent illegal migration, drug smuggling, organized crime as well as terrorism . Travelling without borders facilitated the movement of terrorists within the EU.

Combating terrorism after 1992

The Treaty on European Union (TEU) was signed in Maastricht on 7 February 1992, creating a new architecture of European integration. Foreign policy, internal, and external security were incorporated into European policies. The third pillar of the EU was created to deal with issues of justice and home affairs. Intergovernmental cooperation in the 1970s laid the foundations for this pillar . Creating the third pillar implied the liquidation of the TREVI I workgroup, and a workgroup was established on terrorism which works within the K4 Committee . In other words, ‘the third pillar incorporates all member states into one, Union–wide system, vital for a fully integrated approach to terrorism’ . Article K.1 of the TEU states that ‘for the purposes of achieving the objectives of the Union, in particular the free movement of persons, and without prejudice to the powers of the European Community, Member States shall regard the following areas as matters of common interest: police cooperation for the purposes of preventing and combating terrorism, unlawful drug trafficking and other serious forms of international crime, including if necessary certain aspects of customs cooperation, in connection with the organization of a Union-wide system for exchanging information within a European Police Office (Europol)’ . Europol became an executive body, whose role was based on developing efficient cooperation between certain member states’ bodies. It recognizes terrorism as a major threat, not only from al Qaeda, but also from domestic separatist movements in Spain, France and Northern Ireland. Thus, Europol launched the Counter Terrorist Program (which analyzes gathered information, undertakes threat and risk assessment and engages in certain actions), the Counter Proliferation Program (monitors the illicit trafficking of nuclear material, strong radiological sources, arms ammunition and explosives as well as weapons of mass destruction and related precursors), the Networking Program (aims to establish effective contacts between counterterrorist authorities and units from Member States, organizations and Third Countries) and the Training and Education Program.

Peter Chalk outlines the full range of solutions provided in the Maastricht Treaty to fight terrorism. Firstly, the implementation of the Treaty pushed all member states in favour of creating one legal system based on an integrated approach towards terrorism. Secondly, the TEU established ‘a truly effective EU crisis management structure that brings together disparate police, customs and judicial authorities under one clearly defined, legally based, authority framework’ . Thirdly, the treaty provided ‘European internal security policing with a solid legal basis’ . Terrorism became a common matter, which was to be coordinated by the Council of Interior and Justice Ministers and the K4 Committee. The fourth solution involved the strengthening of external borders through integrated immigration and asylum policies. Finally, as expressed by Chalk, Europol was created as a ‘truly coherent intelligence initiative’ . In addition, it is important to be aware that to counter terrorism effectively one also has to defend liberal democracy – both in the sense of the common European political system and in the set of values underlying this system. Thus, to combat the threat of terrorism, authorities must obey the rule of law.

Many academics ask whether the Maastricht Treaty puts forth an effective policy towards terrorism. According to Monica den Boer, the most evident factor regarding combating terrorism is that although the EU member states are involved in one framework, they do not tackle the subject in a homogenous way. She mentions two reasons for this. One reason is that throughout history, security has been a realm of national interests, as incorporating security into an international framework would have created many problems and unclear situations. Secondly, the antiterrorist approach is not homogenous since ‘terrorism’ is not even clearly defined. It is therefore important to note that such a complex matter has become ‘the most prominent issue on the third pillar agenda’ . Monica den Boer provides further evidence to highlight the complexity of the issue of combating terrorism. Den Boer shows that originally terrorism was not included on Europol’s agenda due to political reasons. There was little trust between states and so they were cautious about exchanging sensitive information.

In order to address the longstanding academic debate about the effectiveness of antiterrorism policy, one has to examine the different initiatives undertaken by the EU. Artur Gruszczak mentions a few more in which the general aim was to facilitate information exchange. BDL (Bureau de Liaison) was established in 1992 and involved Benelux, France, Germany and Great Britain . A year later, in 1993, the EU made a declaration on the financing of terrorism. The second very important declaration was made after the La Gomera summit in 1995, issued by the Ministers of Home Affairs and Justice. They recognized terrorism ‘as a priority objective among the matters of common interest ’. Terrorism was also claimed to be a major threat to democracy that resulted from the actions of fundamentalists. However, solutions provided by Ministers (exchanging more operational information about terrorist organizations, their modus operandi, financing and money laundering operations) were actually just a repetition of already introduced strategies and policies.

The Treaty of Amsterdam did not introduce any significant changes in the context of terrorism. Title VI point K.1 reaffirms that combating terrorism may be achieved through closer cooperation between authorities from member states and Europol . This was fulfilled by the Tampere Summit in 1999, which prioritized issues encompassed in the ‘area of freedom, security and justice’ . Again, terrorism threats were touched on only briefly. The Tampere Agenda emphasized the need for better coordination, for combating the financing of terrorism, for enhanced cooperation with Europol, to counter internet terrorism and to concentrate TWP tasks on describing terrorist acts in EU countries.

Lastly, one more document is worth mentioning – the European Parliament (Committee on Citizens’ Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs) Report on the role of the European Union in combating terrorism from June 2001 . The Report states that terrorist activities touch every country directly or indirectly. Furthermore, the changing nature of terrorism (for example the appearance of ‘cyber terrorism’, which destroys or damages computer systems), as well as inadequate traditional forms of judicial and police cooperation in combating terrorism, had forced the EU to revise its tools of tracking these phenomena. The Report, written three months before the WTC attack, makes recommendations concerning minimal penalties in the field of terrorism, such as ‘abolishing formal extradition procedures and adopting the principle of mutual recognition of decisions on criminal matters’ , which would lead to the creation of the ‘European search and arrest warrant’. The Report emphasized that terrorism should be treated as a criminal rather than as a political act in order to distinguish terrorism from acts of resistance in third countries that involve terrorist methods. However, as mentioned in the general introduction, only six out of fifteen Member States (Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and the United Kingdom) had specific antiterrorist legislation, each differing from one state to another. Despite the widespread awareness of the terrorist threat, only several countries had taken steps to combat it, which was not a solid enough foundation for effective cooperation on a European level.

To sum up, antiterrorist actions developed by European states, later by member states of the EEC and finally by the EU, were more defensive in nature and limited to political solutions. Jasiński and Rakowski draw the conclusion that legislation included a few less important acts that were difficult to put into practice. The possibility of serious terrorist attacks involving chemical or biological weapons was completely unreal for the EU member states. Moreover, European states treated terrorism as a domestic problem that concerned only domestic security policy .

The European Union response to the 9/11 attacks

The EU response to the World Trace Centre terrorist attacks was rapid. Shortly after the attacks, Javier Solana expressed his feelings of solidarity with the victims: ‘I am appalled by the events today in the United States. No words can adequately express my feelings in response to these barbaric acts of terrorism. I wish to express my solidarity with the American people and in particular with the families of the many innocent people struck by this tragedy. Consultations are underway on both sides of the Atlantic and the European Union stands firmly and fully behind the United States’ . Another declaration of solidarity with Americans was made by Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission (EC) . It was evident that the 9/11 attacks posed a challenge for the two main international actors – the EU and the USA. The EU was engaged on several levels. Kristin Archick describes how ‘immediate European efforts following September 11 to track down terrorist suspects and freeze financial assets, often in close cooperation with US authorities, produced numerous arrests, especially in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Germany and Spain were identified as key logistical and planning bases for the attacks on the United States’ . Thus, it was found that Europe had served as a base for planning the attacks. Several years later Europe became a target itself – as in the Madrid bombings on 11 March 2004, when 190 were killed and over 1700 wounded and in the London explosions on 7 July 2005, resulting in the deaths of 52 people and the injuries of over 700 . Such experiences with terrorism forced Europe to revise and improve its counterterrorist policy.

Firstly, the 9/11 atrocities instigated an extraordinary European Council meeting (September 21, 2001, Brussels), which stressed five areas of priority:

  • enhancing police and judicial cooperation,
  • developing legal international instruments,
  • putting an end to the funding of terrorism,
  • strengthening air security,
  • coordinating the European Union’s global action.

The second informal European Council meeting was held in Ghent, Belgium on 19 October 2001. During the meeting, it was stressed that the EU had launched 79 actions to track down terrorist However, all the issues raised in discussion were similar to those introduced at the Council meeting in Brussels. Significantly, the Ghent meeting was succeeded by the launching of a ‘Declaration by the Heads of State or Government of the European Union and the President of the Commission Follow-up to the September 11 Attacks and the Fight against Terrorism’ , and an ‘Anti-terrorism Roadmap’ , which was a detailed plan of antiterrorist actions within a cross pillar framework.

Defining terrorism as a milestone in combating terrorism

Immediately after the attacks, the EC worked out a ‘Proposal for Council Framework Decision on combating terrorism’ , which was based on Article 29 of the Treaty of Amsterdam. The first purpose of the decision was ‘to establish minimum rules relating to the constituent elements of criminal acts and to penalties for natural and legal persons who have committed or are liable for terrorist offences which reflect the seriousness of such offences’ . However, launching a debate between the EU bodies on the proper definition of terrorist offences was the most important issue. Finally, Article 1 of the Framework Decision on combating terrorism (13 June 2002) defines terrorist acts ‘as offences under national law, which given their nature or context, may seriously damage a country or an international organization where committed with the aim of seriously intimidating a population or unduly compelling a Government or international organization to perform or abstain from performing any act, or seriously destabilizing or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an international organization’.

Furthermore, it defines a terrorist group as ‘a structured group of more than two persons, established over a period of time and acting in concert to commit terrorist offences. Structured group shall mean a group that is not randomly formed for the immediate commission of an offence and that does not need to have formally defined roles for its members, continuity of its membership or a developed structure’ . Adoption of this definition marked a significant milestone in the EU’s counterterrorist policy, because it helped to classify those who commit terrorist acts, and also to distinguish terrorism from other offences. It is crucial to emphasize that the Decision broadened its scope by focusing also on actions which could support or lead to terrorism such as inciting, aiding or abetting terrorist activities. Finally, the jurisdiction of terrorist acts showed Member States how to judge these crimes in a unified manner (not less than fifteen years for a director of a terrorist group, and not less than eight years for a participant in such a group).

The Madrid bombings as an accelerator of counterterrorist actions

The second important proposition put forward by the EC concerned the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) . The EAW aims to unify already existing extradition procedures and bilateral agreements into one clear document. In the first article of the framework decision the EAW was defined as ‘a judicial decision issued by a Member State with a view to the arrest and surrender by another Member State of a requested person, for the purpose of conducting a criminal prosecution or executing a custodial sentence or detention order. Member States shall execute any European arrest warrant on the basis of the principle of mutual recognition and in accordance with the provisions of this Framework Decision’ . According to the mutual recognition paradigm, national states (one should bear in mind that the EAW concerns only EU member states), should not refuse to send their citizens to the state where they committed the crime. It is worth mentioning that the EAW speeds up and simplifies extradition procedures, due to an obligation that the arrested person’s home state should return that person to the state where the crime was committed within 90 days, and due to the abolition of the dual criminality principal (which affects 32 crimes including terrorism). According to this principle, ‘both the country requesting extradition and the country that should arrest and return the alleged criminal, recognize and accept that what he or she is alleged to have done, is a crime’ . Moreover, the EAW excludes the political stage of extradition and introduces only the judicial one, which means that national courts are responsible for the decision to extradite. Last but not least, the EAW guarantees that fundamental rights will be protected according to the European Convention on Human Rights . Finally, the EAW eliminates a category of political offences (by removing doubts as to who is a terrorist rather than a freedom fighter), which had been an obstacle in the extradition law before the introduction of the EAW . Krzysztof Kuczyński highlights the complexity of the EAW in regard to several issues. Firstly, Member States are unwilling to cooperate in the judicial sphere because it is strongly connected with their sovereignty. Secondly, the EAW was part of a framework decision, which means that there was no sanction imposed for rejecting the implementation of this act. Thus, implementation depends entirely on Member States’ good will. One should also bear in mind that within the third pillar, Community law is not superior to national laws. In some cases, implementation of the EAW required changing the constitution, as in Poland, due to the constitutional clause prohibiting the extradition of nationals. In Germany, implementation was even more difficult. The Federal Constitutional Tribunal revoked an implementation law of the EAW, explaining that it ‘did not respect fundamental rights and procedural guarantees and so was contrary to the German Constitution’.

In order to provide further evidence to highlight the EC’s rapid response to the 9/11 attacks, a few more initiatives should be described. Firstly, Eurojust (the European Unit for judicial cooperation in criminal matters) was introduced by the Council Decision of 28 February 2002 as an independent EU body, although not to track down terrorists, but to ‘enhance the effectiveness of the competent authorities within Member States when they are dealing with the investigation and prosecution of serious cross-border and organised crime’ . Nonetheless, as widely acknowledged, this body has made a significant contribution in tracking down terrorists ‘All Member States have designated a Eurojust national correspondent for terrorist matters, in order to enhance its counter-terrorist work. Eurojust convenes regularly both strategic and operational meetings on judicial cooperation to fight terrorism. Mid-2005, cases relating to terrorism amounted to approximately 6% of the total number of cases referred to Eurojust (an increase of 37% when compared to the same period in 2004)’ . Secondly, in order to improve antiterrorist cooperation, a counterterrorist unit was created within Europol – Task Force for the Fight against Terrorism . This unit, which consists of police and intelligence liaison officers from Member States, gathers, analyzes and assesses information gathered from open sources. Europol set up a 24hr operational centre focused on receiving and sharing data and intelligence information. In addition, Europol launched a Counter Terrorism Programme to examine progress in strategic areas. Den Boer also mentions the following Europol initiatives: the Counter Proliferation Programme, the Networking Programme, the Preparedness Programme and the Training and Education Programme . Jan Wouters and Frederik Naert describe Europol’s new competences. They note that ‘cooperation with authorities of third States, in particular the US has also been enhanced. Furthermore, a start has been made in implementing the operational role which the Treaty of Amsterdam assigned to Europol with the Council Framework decision of 13 June 2002 on joint investigation teams’ . The EU also strengthened air transport security and border controls. The most important actions taken by the EU in these areas are: the establishment of common rules on civil aviation security by the European Parliament and the Council (16 December 2002) , the setting up of the European Aviation Safety Agency and EU actions within the International Civil Aviation Organization . Border controls were strengthened by introducing biometric passports (which include facial images and fingerprints) and by establishing the Border Agency (FRONTEX) , which coordinates and unifies border controls in Member States.

Another action taken in the wake of the September 11 attacks was the freezing of terrorist assets. Specific restrictive measures were put into place, directed against certain persons and entities in order to combat international terrorism. The proposition includes an index of legal persons, entities and organizations connected with financing, preparing or participating in terrorist attacks. According to Article 1 of the European Council regulation, all assets that belong to these persons or organizations shall be frozen . Moreover, providing any services to these persons or organizations is strongly prohibited. This regulation was undertaken by the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) in cooperation with the intergovernmental body, Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

One of the EU’s top priorities on the agenda after 9/11 was to enhance cooperation with the United States. The Council (JHA) proposed a coalition strategy on 20 September 2001. This strategy includes the screening of terrorist threats and recognition of terrorist organizations. Additionally, the Council proposed a joint meeting of Troikas – representatives of the EU (COTER – second pillar, and JHA – third pillar) and the US, to be held twice every six months. Enhanced transatlantic cooperation also means that the American representatives will be invited to meetings of antiterrorist EU bodies. The goal is to share experiences in combating terrorism . Przemysław Żurawski vel Grajewski delineates seven areas of bilateral cooperation:

  • aviation and other transport security,
  • police and judicial cooperation, including extradition,
  • denial of financing of terrorism, including financial sanctions,
  • denial of other means of support to terrorists,
  • export control and non-proliferation,
  • border controls, including visa and document security issues,
  • law enforcement access to information and exchange of electronic data .

It is also worth mentioning that on 7 October 2001, the USA commenced attacks on Afghanistan according to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1368. The EU member states were given a green light to support the US in the coalition. Moreover, the EU provided humanitarian aid to Afghani people who had suffered during the US intervention . Several other steps were taken, such as the signing of two agreements in 2001 and 2002, together which laid the basis for laws governing US–Europol cooperation (the exchange of strategic and personal information) , as well as the formulation of treaties on extradition and mutual legal assistance (MLA) in June 2003 (these simplify the extradition process and promote better cooperation in prosecution) . The negotiation of these treaties encountered difficulties in trying to resolve various issues, such as the death penalty, which is legal in the US but prohibited in the EU. The US finally agreed that extradited persons would not face capital punishment. However, on other matters, an agreement between the parties was not so easy to achieve. In May 2004, ‘the Council adopted a decision approving the conclusion of an agreement between the European Community and the United States on the processing and transfer of PNR (Passenger Name Records) data by air carriers established in Member States of the Community to CBP (Customs and Border Protection)’ . The first agreement was cancelled but after lengthy negotiations, consensus was finally reached. Upon EU acceptance of US demands (after the US threatened to restrict the movement of goods and people), an agreement was signed in July 2007 regarding the transfer of PNR data . The EU signed a similar agreement with Australia .

Apart from adopting antiterrorist measures, the EU also needed to establish a system of verifying that they were implemented in Member States. A peer evaluation system was set up, keeping in line with the intergovernmental character of the third pillar. This meant that states were to examine each other, locate vulnerabilities in law enforcement, share their positive experiences and look for new solutions. The results of such an evaluation system are not binding, but rather serve as recommendations. However, due to the fact that the results are agreed to at a high political level, states cannot ignore them, as this would suggest irresponsible behaviour on their part .

In fact, the Madrid bombings also brought forth a Declaration on Combating Terrorism , adopted after the European Council meeting in Brussels on 25-26 March 2004. The Declaration not only reviewed actions that had already been introduced, but also expressed solidarity with the victims and shifted priorities. A solidarity clause was included, which had been connected with the Lisbon Treaty. The EU member states were supposed to work on a detailed plan for implementing the European Security Strategy (2003) . Furthermore, the Declaration voices a need to establish a counterterrorist coordinator, ‘who will work within the Council Secretariat, will co-ordinate the work of the Council in combating terrorism and, with due regard to the responsibilities of the Commission, maintain an overview of all the instruments at the Union’s disposal with a view to regular reporting to the Council and effective follow-up of Council decisions’ . This position was taken by Gijs de Vries and is now continued by Mr Gilles de Kerchove. Lastly, the Declaration accepted a proposition of the European Parliament declaring 11 March as a European day of commemoration for the victims of terrorism . While data exchange had always been a touchy issue, the Madrid bombings provided yet another reason for screening antiterrorist policy and for speeding up law enforcement processes. One significant undertaking was the establishment of a ‘pioneer group’- G5, which consisted of five countries – Spain, France, Germany, Great Britain and Italy. The aim was to strengthen intergovernmental, antiterrorist cooperation, as well as to exchange information more quickly and effectively. These countries had the same information culture, meaning similar cooperative information systems, thus making this kind of cooperation possible . In 2006, Poland was invited to join the group. The first meeting of the G6 group took place in Germany in Heiligendamm . G6 focuses on information exchange including fingerprints, DNA, terrorist alert information and information about stealing dangerous materials and substances. The group incorporated biometric information into passports and ID cards. G6 also deals with illegal migration and has launched a ‘web-check’ programme .

An Action Plan on Combating Terrorism was endorsed immediately after the European Council Declaration (March 2004). The Action Plan was a more detailed consequence of the Anti-terrorist Roadmap. Contrary to the roadmap, the plan does not give any urgent implementation deadlines. An outline of the Plan is made in the introduction:

  • to deepen the international consensus and enhance international efforts to combat terrorism,
  • to reduce terrorists’ access to financial and other economic resources,
  • to maximize capability within EU bodies and Member States to detect, investigate and prosecute terrorists and prevent terrorist attacks,
  • to protect the security of international transport and ensure effective systems of border control,
  • to enhance the capability of the European Union and of Member States to deal with the consequences of terrorist attacks,
  • to address the factors that contribute to and provide support for terrorism, and that lead to recruitment of terrorists,
  • to target actions under EU external relations towards priority Third Countries where counterterrorism capacity or commitment to combating terrorism needs to be enhanced .

The next step was taken by the Commission of the European Communities, when it published the document ‘Prevention, preparedness and response to terrorist attacks ’. The document was based on a previously introduced Action Plan on Combating Terrorism and put pressure on civil society as a tool to fight terrorism. It was not only established to protect fundamental civil rights, but also to create a security dialogue within the private sector, which could be a significant contribution in combating terrorism.

Furthermore, five years after the implementation of the Tampere Agenda, a need had arisen to work on an alternative document that would strengthen the areas of freedom, security and justice in the EU. This laid the foundations for the establishment of the Hague Programme, which was adopted after the European Council meeting on 4-5 November 2004 . The Programme focuses on formulating coherent actions based on terrorism prevention and information exchange, to be achieved by effective cooperation between member and non-member states. It concerned itself particularly with terrorist recruitment and financing, risk analysis, protection of vulnerable infrastructures and consequence management.

The Madrid attack provoked Member States to enhance antiterrorist cooperation in one more area. In May 2005, seven countries – Germany, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria and Belgium – signed the Schengen III Treaty. The Schengen Prüm concerns close cross-border cooperation between states in the exchange of sensitive data (such as DNA, fingerprint, vehicle information and any personal and non-personal information to prevent terrorism) and in the security of sporting and mass-events . Additionally, it introduces air marshals and includes measures to combat illegal migration and repatriation. It should be noted that the Prüm Convention is not a part of Schengen acquis and was signed outside the EU framework.

The European Union antiterrorist actions after the London attacks

The July 2005 London attacks served as another verification of the problems in EU antiterrorist policy. Again, the EU showed rapid and effective reaction ex post, only after the tragedy had taken place. An extraordinary Council Meeting (JHA) on 13 June 2005 stressed the need for enhanced cooperation, especially in information exchange, to prevent people from turning to terrorism, to minimize the consequences of terrorism and to protect citizens and infrastructure. The most controversial issue concerned the Council agreement on the Framework Decisions on the Retention of Telecommunications Data (October 2005) . Telecommunications data encompassed in the agreement include the time, duration and user name (but not content) of all private phone calls, text messages and e-mail. According to the agreement, the data should be stored for not less than six months, and not longer than two years. Although such a decision encountered strong opposition from the Member States , due to personal data protection law and the high costs of storage, the final version of the European Parliament and the Council Directive ‘on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks and amending’ will be mandated by the Member States. Finally, it is worth saying that the Retention of Telecommunications Data has made a huge contribution to finding the offenders responsible for the Madrid bombings.

In November 2005, the Council of the European Union adopted ‘The European Union Counter-Terrorist Strategy’ . The strategy divides actions into the categories of prevention, protection, pursuance and response and serves as a summary of all previous documents, statements, propositions and decisions of the EU. The strategy emphasizes a need to: (1) prevent ‘people [from] turning to terrorism by tackling the factors or root causes which can lead to radicalisation and recruitment, in Europe and internationally’, (2) protect ‘citizens and infrastructure and reduce our vulnerability to attack, including through improved security of borders, transport and critical infrastructure’, (3) pursue and investigate ‘terrorists across our borders and globally; to impede planning, travel, and communications; to disrupt support networks; to cut off funding and access to attack materials, and bring terrorists to justice’, (4) ‘prepare ourselves, in the spirit of solidarity, to manage and minimise the consequences of a terrorist attack, by improving capabilities to deal with: the aftermath; the co-ordination of the response; and the needs of victims’ . The Strategy shows that the EU was aware that to deal effectively with terrorism, it was not only important to learn to better cope with its consequences, but also and foremost to attempt to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Although terrorism prevention measures had been included in the Strategy from November 2005, the EU extended a debate about this issue. In November 2005, the Council adopted ‘The European Union Strategy for Combating Radicalization and Recruitment to Terrorism’ . It aims to combat the root causes of terrorism by disrupting already existing terrorist networks and by preventing people from turning to terrorism. The EU proposed three types of actions:

  • disrupt the activities of the networks and individuals who draw people into terrorism,
  • ensure that voices of mainstream opinion prevail over those of extremism,
  • promote yet more vigorously security, justice, democracy and opportunity for all.

The strategy stresses that to achieve success in these matters, it is crucial to involve non-governmental entities such as organizations or religious authorities.

It is evident that the EU is an active player on the European and global scene concerning antiterrorist policy. As presented above, the EU adopted measures in many areas, however, are these efforts enough to make a coherent and effective EU policy? The next part of the article attempts to answer this question by evaluating EU actions.

The European Union counterterrorist actions – what should be improved

Despite the EU’s immediate response to the threat of terrorism, it has been widely criticized for the lack of effectiveness of its strategy. There are several reasons for this. While the EU made a proposition for communication data retention, public opinion condemned the lack of personal data protection and problems with the proportionality principle (a method of creating a balance between means and ends). Also, an unnecessarily large amount of documents is produced as a consequence of an institutional race between the Council and the Commission, both of which want to present their active involvement in terrorist matters , which in the end causes any antiterrorist strategy to be less coherent. Furthermore, both the intergovernmental character of the third pillar and the lack of trust between Member States weaken any antiterrorist measures. Bearing in mind that counterterrorism is a cross-pillar domain, the lack of cooperation between actions taken within different pillars is also a serious obstacle undermining counterterrorism policy as a whole.

The intergovernmental nature of the third pillar is based on the rule of unanimity, the exclusion of the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice and the lack of transparency in the decision making process. These aspects impede an effective cooperation between states . The lack of trust was evident in the difficulties surrounding the implementation of the EAW. This instrument was established to prevent criminals from avoiding their sentences and is based on mutual recognition and trust. However, the EAW does not work properly. For example, the British Court refuses to surrender a Polish criminal who escaped from Poland after being convicted in 2002. The British court maintains that the EAW is contradictory to British law. In the last six months, the British courts have made decisions on only 11 out of 77 applications provided by the Polish Court. Not all of these decisions were positive. The British court has used such specious arguments as claiming that an offender’s sudden fall into an emotional depression relieved him of being extradited. According to the EAW, a person suspected of criminal behaviour should be surrendered within about 43 days; however, in Great Britain it can take 18 months or more. To make matter worse, there are no penalties for a Member State that does not follow EAW obligations. Other Member States besides Poland have had similar problems with Great Britain . Den Boer emphasizes that the core of the EAW is the mutual recognition rule; its full implementation by Member States is a sine qua non condition for making the EAW a truly effective tool .

In his interviews, Gijs De Vries identifies numerous vulnerabilities in antiterrorist strategy. He sees the exchange of information as one of the weak points in the policies, as there is a lack of a clear set of rules governing states’ abilities to obtain information from each other. De Vries draws attention to an availability principle – he claims that available information concerning crimes in one state should be available to other states as well. Such a diagnosis is also given by Europol: ‘80% of information concerning terrorism which is delivered to Hague headquarters is provided by only five Member States’ . Furthermore, De Vries points to a factor also noticed by many authorities and politicians – the poor implementation of antiterrorist measures. The rejection of the Lisbon Treaty exacerbated this situation. The Treaty would have simplified the implementation of procedures: ‘Directives would be approved by a qualified majority under the strong control of national parliaments and the European Parliament and with access to the European Court of Justice. It would make the process more effective, more democratic and it would be better for the protection of our civil liberties’ .

Filip Jasiński repeats the already mentioned problem – poor implementation of antiterrorism laws. He mentions the European Commission Report, which states that the laws that have been enforced are not used enough. He gives several reasons for this: there are not enough educated people who would impose the laws; people are not keen on taking advantage of new instruments provided by the EU; and, finally, there is a lack of awareness of the importance of being open to new solutions as well as obligations. The majority of these allegations actually concern ‘old’ Member States since the ‘new’ ones agreed in the accession treaty to implement framework decisions .

Jasiński also identifies new tendencies in the way states deal with antiterrorism as reasons for such weak cooperation – he calls it a boredom and oblivion syndrome. In other words, despite the fact that terrorism is a high priority issue, it has become common for important information about other matters to dominate the European agenda. This was made clear after the Madrid bombings, when news concerning terrorism disappeared from the agenda faster than after the 9/11 attacks. Even though terrorism seems to be a pervasive issue in EU institutions and law enforcement, more documents regarding terrorism are discussed as a point ‘A’ at the Council meetings. This means that they are not discussed in a plenary session. States are bored with the subject of terrorism, especially because they are convinced that everything has already been done to combat its threat at the EU level. Usually, political meetings finish with a broad agreement; however, experts cannot put theory into practice during technical meetings due to a lack of strategic and legal assistance from the Member States.

Jasiński draws attention to the fact that according to polls presented by Statewatch, from among 57 actions proposed in the Action Plan (15 June 2004), 27 are not directly related to terrorism, but rather to crime in a broader sense . It seems that terrorist attacks were treated as a huge opportunity to force through many different projects, which resulted in agenda overload and ambiguity. Actions taken by the EU are a duplication of already existing measures rather than a formulation of new approaches. Raphael Bossong mentions that only one out of eleven measures listed in “Anti-terrorism Roadmap” was a new item. He calls it “the garbage can policy” or “expectations/capabilities gap” . Bossong presents a similar opinion about the European Counter-Terrorism Strategy. He sees the strategy as an attractive re-packaging of old resolutions . When goals concerning security matters are overly ambitious or controversial, the EU is put in the position of having to force states to meet the deadlines. This results in inefficient top-down actions. Ideally, counterterrorism proposals would be initiated down-top, from national governments to the EU. Jasiński describes another tendency – the lack of clearly defined timelines. For instance, the Hague Programme and the Action Plan on Combating Terrorism have many unspecified deadlines; in some cases, deadlines are not specified at all. Some of the actions concerning the JHA, indirectly connected with terrorism, are dealt with from such a long-term perspective that consequently they are ineffective. Moreover, antiterrorism decisions are related to political issues. For example, according to Jasiński, some of the long-term action plans provided by EU institutions, if they are not included as priorities for the presidency, may be excluded from the Council’s work schedule as well.

Another weak point in counterterrorism policy is creation of many forums operating from within and outside the EU, which do not act in a compatible way. This situation makes actions incoherent and difficult to manage. Björn Müller-Wille explains the problems in co-operation between intelligence agencies developed outside the EU framework with EU centralized intelligence co-operation structures. One of the main EU bodies assigned the task of gathering, exchanging and analyzing intelligence data is Europol. However, according to Müller-Wille, even though Europol is well capable of analyzing intelligence data, it has serious problems with the collection of data. Europol does not have its own independent source of intelligence information, so it must rely on access from other open sources. Müller-Wille names two units independent from the EU which collect intelligent information: the Counter Terrorist Group and the Police Working Group on Terrorism . He argues that the poor cooperation between these national agencies and Europol is due to the fact that the agencies are suspicious of exchanging information with Europol. Furthermore, Europol has no real counterterrorism responsibilities. It is the national agencies, not Europol, who are blamed or praised for fighting terrorism. The main responsibility in collecting and analyzing data remains within the hands of the national services. Thus, providing intelligence data for Europol is an obligation which the agencies are unwilling to fulfil. Europol, therefore, has only a supporting role. Müller-Wille emphasizes that Europol does not have the most evident function – intelligence cooperation responsibilities conducted by European police outside the EU’s territory. To sum up “ (…) Europol has not added any value in the intelligence sphere, it does not function efficiently as a centralized intelligence agency offering vertical support to national agencies” .

In order to harmonize counterterrorism actions, the EU appointed antiterrorist coordinator Gijs de Vries. Not only were his duties ambiguous, but he was also unable to change states’ approaches towards the implementation of counterterrorist decisions. Consequently, he stepped down in March 2007, after his three-year tenure had come to an end . The position remained vacant for six months until a new co-coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, was appointed in September 2007. In practice, the antiterrorist coordinator does not have a significant impact on antiterrorist policy. The coordinator’s only power is that of persuasion. Furthermore, he has no budget to implement new initiatives and cannot force Member States to accelerate implementation processes . As long as there are no sanctions for delaying the enforcement of laws (as there are in the first pillar), states will not treat antiterrorist measures seriously.

Statewatch – an organization which monitors states and civil liberties in Europe, is highly critical of antiterrorist measures taken by the EU. In a report evaluating antiterrorist measures proposed after the Madrid attacks, Statewatch charges that many inappropriate laws unrelated to terrorism had been adopted. Moreover, they violate personal data protection law. According to the authors of the report, all measures relating to the retention of telecommunication data, the introduction of biometrics passports and the creation of databases have had the effect of placing the majority of EU citizens under surveillance. The report stresses that ‘human intelligence is the key to effective counter-terrorism. It is not produced by surveillance of the entire population, electronic fishing expeditions or a misguided belief in the superiority of technology’ . The authors suggest that the EU should be more focused on removing cultural and political barriers, so as to improve the exchange of information between police and intelligence services. Furthermore, they state that there was no need to develop more antiterrorist measures; it would have sufficed if judicial and police authorities cooperated efficiently to track down terrorists.

Europeans and Americans are at odds over their approach towards transatlantic cooperation. According to Didier Bigo, Americans are much too focused on cooperation with intelligence services, developing new technology and conducting military interventions, rather than working to improve transatlantic cooperation in the police and judiciary spheres . The author sees an asymmetry in EU-US relations. The EU is suspicious of sharing information between different bodies, because the reliability of information depends on the body which provides it – on whether it is a judicature, an intelligence service, or the police. Additionally, Americans want to administer the processes of data analysis, despite the fact that the information that they provide has a personal, not a strategic character, therefore discouraging cooperation. The European role is only to gather such information. The most intensive EU-US contacts are in the field of intelligence services. Bigo suggests that such broad intelligence cooperation originated with the network developed between the Commonwealth and the United States, which then extended to other European states. Paradoxically, even countries that do not support the US war in Iraq (for instance, France and Germany), strengthened their cooperation with the American intelligence service . The author sees a great danger in the improper usage of information provided by an intelligence service. Bearing in mind that the USA is in favour of using hard power (pre-emptive attacks) and is criticized for disseminating false information about the existence of WMDs in Iraq, it is necessary to consider the reliability of an intelligence service’s information, and of the way in which it is used. Bigo doubts that if intelligence services had unlimited access to all public and private data, they would be able to predict every terrorist attack. The saying, ‘the more the better’, is not relevant to intelligence service information exchange. The example of Iraq should serve as a lesson for European countries . On the one hand, transatlantic cooperation is crucial to track down terrorists; on the other hand, it should not lead in a unilateral direction by undermining the EU’s role in counterterrorist actions.

Freezing terrorist funds is an important antiterrorist tool, as without money terrorist groups cannot operate. In other words, the EU created a tool directed at individuals, because it is they, not states, who are responsible for terrorist attacks. However, this measure has also been widely criticized. Michael Jacobson explains that the EU based its list of terrorist suspects on a list that had been recognized by the United Nations’ 1267 committee . Jacobson reproached that although the EU launched a separate process to recognize and add other terrorist suspects to the list, the framework of unanimity impeded the building of consensus. For instance, Jacobson criticizes, due to ‘French-led opposition, the EU has thus far not designated Hizballah as a terrorist organization. And, until 2003, only Hamas’s military wing was designated’ . This example not only shows vulnerabilities in the field of freezing terrorist funds, but also proves that differences in the national interests of EU Member States are the main hindrance in the European Union decision-making process .

The European Union’s successful actions in countering terrorism

Despite so many criticisms of the EU, the EU does in fact respond immediately to any international occurrence. In matters related to terrorism, the EU has felt responsible for the world order and has treated itself as a key international actor with a responsibility to combat this phenomenon. After every attack, the EU revised its strategy and sped up changes in law enforcement.

The first issue mentioned by Gijs De Vries, when he was asked what achievements had been attained in the fight against terrorism, was the improvement in information exchange. Although this issue has been widely criticized, De Vries sees it as a success that four bodies (Europol, Eurojust, Frontex, and Situation Centre ) are involved in combating terrorism. Moreover, it is evident on a daily level that border infrastructures are better protected and that air security has improved in the last few years. De Vries also focuses on the compatibility of the EU’s actions with the Security Strategy. In other words, the EU cooperates not only with the United Nations, but also with third countries: ‘we have increased our support to the AIEA in Vienna, and the OPCW, the organization against the proliferation of chemical weapons in The Hague. We are also working with Russia, for example, to reduce the chemical and nuclear stockpiles in Russia, to reduce the risk of materials being sold or stolen. On the external side, we work closely with the Americans against terrorism’ . Furthermore, in external affairs the EU showed that as a soft power , it is able to act effectively. The EU is one of the biggest providers of financial aid to poor countries for their reconstruction. About 80% of economic assistance goes to Bosnia and Kosovo. The EU has also been donating funds to Afghanistan. In 2001, the EU gave Afghanistan €352 million for food and humanitarian aid (€103 million came from the Commission). From 2001 until 2006, the EU gathered about €1 billion for this country alone . Such actions are intended to prevent terrorism, to help states rebuild their infrastructures and to strengthen antiterrorist opposition groups.

On a global scale, it is clear that states have intensified their cooperation with the United Nations (UN). The 13 conventions adopted by the UN, in addition to the Security Council resolutions, laid strong foundations for antiterrorist actions. Gijs De Vries demonstrates the growing support for the Conventions: ‘The number of parties (146 this month) to the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings increased almost sixfold since 2001; adherence to the Convention for the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism grew from 4 countries in 1999 to 153 today, and three other conventions have been joined by more than 180 states’ .

Contrary to all arguments regarding problems in the implementation of certain measures, it is worth examining statistics that throw a different light on the matter. One of the most controversial measures was EAW’s shortening of the extradition process to less than two months. For instance, ‘Isaac Hamdi, one of the suspected bombers in the botched attack in London on 21 July 2005, was extradited by Italy to the UK in 42 days’ . In 2004 alone, 3318 EAWs were issued, resulting in 1073 arrests and 729 suspects being extradited. Furthermore, in 2005, Europol had a significant impact in strengthening internal security by breaking up a European network of human smugglers (52 arrests) as well as a network of child pornographers, and was involved in 20 investigations concerning Islamist terrorism . To meet Member States’ demands for a more decentralized, horizontal approach towards antiterrorism cooperation, Europol has adjusted its representatives (349 officials, 15 seconded national officers, 105 liaison officers) to work on many levels with national partners. According to Europol’s 2007 report, a total of 498 attacks were carried out in 2006, while 706 individuals suspected of a terrorist offence were arrested . Obviously, information about another deadly attack is more accessible and easily disseminated than special bodies’ reports, but information provided by the EU regarding counterterrorist activities cannot be judged completely negatively . Another important intergovernmental agreement – Schengen Prüm – shows that cooperation between states is possible even if it relates to the exchange of sensitive data. So far, it has been ratified by five out of seven states – Germany, Austria, Spain, Luxembourg and Belgium .

In discussing this convention, it is crucial to highlight some key issues. Firstly, in the future there are plans to implement Schengen Prüm to the third pillar acquis. Secondly, the convention works according to personal data protection rights. In other words, when states exchange DNA data, they are forbidden to reveal any information about the suspects’ identity during the first stage of testing, unless the sought-after data matches that which is found in the states’ databases. In terrorist matters, the Prüm Convention does not introduce any significant changes. It attempts to simplify data exchange: instead of, for instance, requiring a state to ask another state’s contact point for the terrorist-related information it is attempting to obtain, the contact point is automatically sent to all contracting parties. In this way a formal procedure is skipped . Thirdly, according to statistics, even at such an early stage, the Prüm Convention is applauded as a success: ‘the German authorities matched DNA profiles of open cases against data held by Austrian authorities and found hits in more then 1500 cases. In this context, over 700 open traces from Germany could be attributed to persons known to the Austrian criminal prosecution authorities. Broken down by types of crime, 14 hits in homicide or murder cases, 885 hits in theft cases, and 85 hits in robbery or extortion cases were found (as of January, 4th)’ . On the other hand, opponents of this intergovernmental approach raise concerns about the fragmentation of antiterrorist actions and about concentrating them in an exclusive group of states. This point of view is encountered in the Eighteen Report of the House of Lords concerning the Prüm Convention . Firstly, the statistics presented above were called “headline-making figures”. It was argued that such incredible crime prosecution figures would be easily obtained by the availability principle. Secondly, it is worth considering whether such information exchange would be possible among 27 Member States, as they each have different ways of gathering and sharing data.

Further evidence of Member States’ successes in many areas of law enforcement is displayed in an executive summary of a report on the implementation of recommendations written by the Council of the EU on counterterrorist measures taken within the EU Member States . The report consists of recommendations, which are the last stage of a peer evaluation process that had begun in 2001. According to the report, about 95% of recommendations had been implemented by 27 Member States . The report also notes that actions which had previously been negatively evaluated, have since been improved upon due to Member States’ engagement; for instance, the creation of a clearly competent structure responsible for counterterrorism strategy within each state, the improvement of the use of intelligence as evidence in Court and the development of crisis management national centres. Finally, through the peer evaluation process, 79 recommendations have been proposed, of which 65 have been implemented.

Counterterrorist policy – perspectives

When talking about perspectives of antiterrorist actions, one should bear in mind an important factor: the London attacks were prepared by British immigrants, who had been living in Great Britain for generations. The issue of immigration is not new on the European agenda, but its connections with terrorism has made it important in a discussion about counterterrorism perspectives. The authors of the article, ‘How Widespread is Terrorism in Europe?’ recognize the problem of young immigrants who live in Europe while at the same time are involved in global jihad. The authors mention ‘new euro Islamists’ – well educated and ostensibly integrated, ‘who lived in a mental black box, shut off from Western values, but nevertheless in the heart of Europe’ , and suddenly fall into Islamic extremism. According to Baltasar Garzon, there is a ‘galaxy of small groups’ (involved in jihad) in Europe. Europe is aware that it is not enough to clean up after another terrorist attack. Prevention is also one of the most important factors in countering terrorism. Apart from the actions taken by the EU in its ‘Strategy for Combating Radicalization, Recruitment to Terrorism’ to prevent terrorism and promote a multicultural society which would be in favour of the integration and assimilation process, the European Commission declared 2008 the ‘European Year of Intercultural Dialogue’. European Commissioner Jan Figel, who is responsible for Education, Training, Culture and Multilingualism, stated ‘Over the past few years, Europe has seen major changes resulting from successive enlargements of the Union, greater mobility in the Single Market, and increased travel to and trade with the rest of the world. This has resulted in interaction between Europeans and the different cultures, languages, ethnic groups and religions on the continent and elsewhere. Dialogue between cultures would therefore appear to be an essential tool in forging closer links both between European peoples themselves and between their respective cultures’ . This statement describes the essence of the Intercultural Dialogue Programme. In 2008, it is evident that a dialogue needs to be established, not only between European nations, but also with immigrants from third countries. The integration process is crucial to assimilate immigrants into the European community. This does not mean that the EU wants all people to be the same, but rather aims to encourage diversity based on common values. The goal is to prevent people from turning to terrorism while also counteracting racism against Muslims (such as the tendency to view every Muslim as a potential terrorist). Finally, European security touches many aspects of EU policies, even cultural ones. This is also a good example of the EU’s use of soft power; the EU wants to prevent terrorism not through military intervention, but through understanding.

The previous parts of this article demonstrate that, when looking from a general perspective at antiterrorist actions taken by the EU, the assessment is rather negative. The most plausible reason for such a diagnosis is that the EU’s ambitions and expectations in counterterrorism are too high, as compared with the reality of what can be attained. A similar opinion is expressed by Jasiński, who notices that it is too early to speak about the European Union’s counterterrorist policy . Despite the fact that terrorism is not a new phenomenon, Member States are unwilling to cooperate, especially when they are required to give up their national competences in security matters. The EU (all three pillars) has established great foundations for such a policy, but at the moment the theory has yet to be put into practice. Without strong intergovernmental cooperation, one can only discern a policy framework, which includes a legislative process, debates and adoption of EU decisions. Jasiński emphasizes the problem that harmonizing antiterrorist measures concerning law enforcement, action plans and strengthening of institutions is not enough to create an effective counterterrorist policy .

Nevertheless, a deep analysis and review of practical information included in legal documents, as well as of positive opinions and statistics concerning counter-terrorism, indicates that some aspects of antiterrorist cooperation have been successful. European states cooperate with each other on a regional, Europe-wide and even global scale. It is true that Member States do not speak with one voice, but rather formulate, as it was said by Jasiński, only loosely connected national policies . However, to evaluate which approach is better, one has to recall Jasiński’s question: where is the division between the EU’s and states’ competences in combating terrorism? To answer this question, one should bear in mind something that has been evident in every European debate – the EU is a place of confrontation of two approaches – a supranational approach versus an intergovernmental one. Supporters of the supranational approach criticize that currently counterterrorist measures are fragmentarily implemented, thus limiting their effectiveness, and that all European states are not given equal opportunities to take part in antiterrorist actions. Those who are in favour of an intergovernmental approach of antiterrorist cooperation, however, say that this approach suffices to tackle the terrorist threat effectively. Furthermore, due to the limited trust between governments, states are only willing to exchange information within small groups. An additional argument in support of this approach is that decentralization of counterterrorism actions is the best response to an asymmetric threat – network terrorism. The best examples of successful decentralized responses to terrorism are the G6 group, parties in the Prüm Convention and the Club of Berne. Is it so obvious that after 9/11, speaking with one voice, meaning fully implementing EU decisions, would really improve European cooperation in terrorist matters? It is difficult to say which direction the European countries should follow, or what are the perspectives of antiterrorist policy. Certainly, in order to avoid future attacks, Member States should speed up their implementation of antiterrorist laws. In addition, they should treat the EU not as an enemy who wants to limit their national competences, but rather as an international actor that helps them to combat terrorism, in this way working to improve the security of every European citizen. Furthermore, as the issue of security was the primary reason for establishing the European Coal and Steel Community, to prevent a third world war, at the present time the EU should also be attempting to prevent war, namely the War on Terrorism. Finally, throughout the history of European integration, there have been examples of transference of third pillar policies into the first pillar . In other words, taking into consideration the huge weight of terrorism and security issues, the possibility cannot be excluded that Member States will one day decide to create a fully integrated antiterrorist policy within the EU. Until that time, one can only hope that future counterterrorism measures will not be strengthened ad hoc after another round of terrorist attacks, but rather through sustainable proactive cooperation. It has been said many times before – nobody can fight terrorism alone.


Magdalena Grajny

The Tischner European University


November 2008

Documents and law acts

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Articles and working papers

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Treść artykułu naukowego: “The European Union counterterrorism policy before and after the 9/11 attacks: to what extent does the European Union have an integrated policy towards terrorism?” jest objęta prawem autorskim. Kopiowanie, powielanie bądź rozpowszechnianie bez zgody autora jest zabronione. Jako autor zgadzam sie na nieodpłatną publikacje treści artykułu naukowego, jednocześnie zastrzegając sobie prawo do nie wyrażenia zgody na publikacje w przypadku zmiany treści tekstu mojego autorstwa przez redakcje

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