Unión europea y terrorismo

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The European Union and the fight against terrorism Presentation by Gijs de Vries, EU Counter-Terrorism Co-ordinator, at the seminar of the Centre for European Reform in Brussels, 19 January 2006 * * * *

The attacks on 9/11 have turned the fight against terrorism into a central dimension of international relations. How best to combat terrorism - or, as some would have it, how to conduct the waron terror - has become a defining issue in multilateral affairs as well as in bilateral relations. Terrorism has changed the global agenda. It has also changed the role and functioning of the European Union. There are few tasks more central to democratic government than protecting public security. To prevent attacks and bring terrorists to justice is among the core responsibilities of any state.It is both logical and necessary, therefore, that in Europe as elsewhere national authorities are leading the fight against terrorism. As today's terrorism is both international and domestic, however, no state can defend its citizens effectively unless it works closely with international partners, both bilaterally and multilaterally. Within the EU this cross-border co-operation has intensifiedsince 9/11, and in particular since the horrendous Madrid attacks in 2004. Through good co-operation between operational services in recent years several terrorist attacks in Europe have been prevented, and arrests and convictions obtained. A recent example is the sentencing in Ireland on 19 December 2005 of an Algerian suspect, Abbas Boutrab, to six years imprisonment for terrorist offences. Thesuccessful outcome of this case was facilitated by cooperation between the police and security services of several Member States, with the involvement of Europol. To combat the scourge of terrorism Member States have also agreed to expand the role of the European Union. A growing body of law has been created; several new agencies were established; counter-terrorism is playing an increasinglyprominent part in EU external relations. The nature of the Union's work is also undergoing rapid change. Traditionally, the role and instruments of the

2 Union have primarily been geared to legislation and policy making. In the last few years, and particularly since the Madrid attacks in March 2004, the Union has been given new, additional responsibilities of an increasingly operational nature. TheUnion's structures, processes, and budget will need to adapt accordingly. One of the instruments created by the Union to facilitate operational co-operation is the European Arrest Warrant. Before the introduction of the European Arrest Warrant extradition between EU Member States was a laborious and slow process, which could take up to a year. In one extreme case an Algerian suspected in the 1995bomb attacks in Paris, Rachid Ramda, was extradited to France in December 2005 after having spent ten years in British custody. Today, extradition takes less than two months. 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. Frequent use is being made of the European Arrest Warrant: 3318 EAWs have been issued in2004 alone, and they resulted in 1073 arrests and 729 suspects being extradited. Another example of the role of the EU is the work carried out to improve the security of airports and maritime ports through standard setting and European monitoring of these standards. Intelligence reports indicate that transport infrastructure continues to present an attractive target for terrorists. This is why theEU has acted to improve airport security. In 2002 the Council adopted rules to improve security at the hundreds of airports in Europe. The Commission has been entrusted with monitoring implementation and has recently published a first assessment. As a result of these higher standards, the Commission has reported, the level of security at airports in the EU has been "considerably enhanced". The...
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