The European Commission has presenting a set of operational and practical measures to defend the EU against terrorist threats. The announcement was made alongside the publication of the Commission’s 11th Security Union Report.
The new measures aim to address vulnerabilities exposed by recent attacks and will support Member States in protecting public spaces and help deprive terrorists of the means to act. The Commission is also proposing to further strengthen the EU's external action on counter-terrorism.
Protecting public spaces
With terrorists increasingly targeting public and crowded spaces, as shown by the recent attacks in Barcelona, London, Manchester and Stockholm, the European Commission has developed an Action Plan to step up the support to Member States efforts to protect and reduce the vulnerability of public spaces. Measures include:
- Increased financial support: The Commission is providing €18.5 million from the Internal Security Fund to support transnational projects improving the protection of public spaces. In 2018, a further €100 million from the Urban Innovative Actions will support cities investing in security solutions.
- Guidance material: Over the next year, the Commission will issue new guidance material to help Member States address a wide range of issues related to the protection of public spaces and raising public awareness. The guidance will include technical ‘security by design’ solutions to make public spaces more secure while preserving their open and public nature.
- Exchange of best practices: The Commission will establish a Practitioners' Forum and set up a High Risk Security Network to provide a platform for common training and joint exercises to improve preparedness against attacks.
- Improving cooperation between local actors and the private sector: The Commission will set up an Operators' Forum to encourage public-private security partnerships and engage with private operators such as shopping malls, concert organisers, sports arenas and car rental companies. The involvement of local and regional authorities will be reinforced with a dedicated high-level meeting on best practice for the protection of public spaces.
While the likelihood of such attacks is deemed to be low, the European Commission is also proposing an Action Plan to step up EU level preparedness, resilience and coordination against attacks involving chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) substances. Measures proposed include the creation of an EU CBRN security network and a CBRN knowledge hub to be set up in the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) in Europol.
Depriving terrorists of the means to act
New short-term measures will:
- Restrict access to substances used to make home-made explosives: The Commission presented a Recommendation setting out immediate steps to prevent the misuse of such substances by terrorists. The Commission is also stepping up its review of the Regulation on explosive precursors with an evaluation that will be followed by an impact assessment during the first half of 2018.
- Support law enforcement and judicial authorities when they encounter encryption in criminal investigations, without weakening encryption at a more general level or affecting a large or indiscriminate number of people: The Commission is proposing technical support measures, a new toolbox of techniques, and training, and proposes setting up a network of points of expertise.
- Tackle terrorist financing: The Commission will look into the obstacles to access financial transaction data in other Member States, and possible EU measures to facilitate and speed up such access.