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Counter-terrorism is EU's highest security priority

20 June 2017, 17:30 CET
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Counter-terrorism is EU's highest security priority

Federica Mogherini - Photo EU Council

(LUXEMBOURG) - Counter-terrorism is the highest security priority for the EU, foreign affairs ministers declared at their Council meeting Monday, as they debated the EU response to the recent attacks in the EU and beyond.

At its meeting, the Council reiterates its strong and unequivocal condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever and for whatever purpose.

The Council stressed the need "to continue expanding our network of counter-terrorist experts in our delegations, focusing on some geographical priorities namely Middle East, North Africa, Western Balkans and Turkey but also Sahel, Horn of Africa and Gulf," said the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Ms Mogherini reported on continued expansion of the EU's global role: "In one year, we have seen that the world needs the European Union much more than we even imagined one year ago and this gives us a big responsibility, a big opportunity." She said the EU had started to "translate our common vision into common action, namely on security and defence, strengthening the European defence pillar, also in partnership with NATO."

In its conclusions, noting that terrorism constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security and that the EU has a vital interest in continuing to work with partners at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels in countering this diverse threat, the Council addressed:

  • Counter-terrorism structures, to reinforce the EU's capacity to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation, including in EU delegations through counter-terrorism / security experts;
  • Internal-external nexus, to ensure greater coherence between internal and external actions in the field of security, strengthening the role of JHA agencies with regard to third countries, and noting that with the addition of the fight against terrorism to the Feira missions through the Council conclusions of May 2017, CSDP missions and operations have a stronger role in combating terrorism;
  • Strengthened cooperation with the Middle-East and North Africa, Western Balkans, Turkey, Sahel and the Horn of Africa, through enhanced political dialogue, more counter-terrorism projects and financial support for counter-terrorism and countering and preventing violent extremism, and reinforced strategic communications, in particular through StratComms Task Force South;
  • Strengthened international cooperation, in particular with key strategic partners, such as the United States, Australia, Canada and the Schengen partners as well as regional and multilateral bodies, in particular the United Nations, NATO, the Global Counter-terrorism Forum, Interpol and the Global Coalition against Da'esh;
  • Strengthening the EU response in key thematic areas, such as preventing and countering violent extremism, the need to effectively address online recruitment and radicalisation, the acute challenge of foreign terrorist fighters, in particular the issue of returnees, aviation security, firearms trafficking, the issue of terrorist financing and money laundering and the links between serious and organised crime and terrorism.

The Council last adopted conclusions on counter-terrorism on 9 February 2015, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks (January 2015), and these remain the cornerstone of the EU's external engagement on counter-terrorism. Since then, the EU's work in this area has considerably intensified.

Foreign Affairs Council, 19/06/2017

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