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New counter-terrorism law backed by MEPs

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New counter-terrorism law backed by MEPs

Photo © European Union 2015 - Source EP - Sebastien Pirlet

(BRUSSELS) - Travelling abroad for terrorist purposes, inciting terrorism and financing terrorist activities will be made a crime following a vote in the European Parliament on Monday.

Under new EU rules to fight terrorism, backed today by MEPs on the Civil Liberties Committee, and already agreed in an informal deal struck by Parliament and Member States, foreign fighters as well as 'lone wolves' training and preparing terrorist attacks on European soil will be criminalised.

The move comes amid warnings from Europol's European Counter Terrorism Centre that further attacks are likely in the EU, both by lone actors and groups. It predicts that if ISIS is defeated or severely weakened in Syria/Iraq, the numbers of foreign fighters returning to Europe will rise.

The new draft text says for a preparatory act to be criminalised, it must have been carried out intentionally or knowingly. Parliament's negotiators inserted a clause stressing that fundamental rights and freedoms must be respected.

The text makes the following acts criminal offences throughout the EU:

  • travelling abroad to join a terrorist group or for training for terrorism, such as foreign fighters travelling to Syria or other conflict zones, or returning to the EU if that the person might constitute a threat,
  • recruitment for terrorism,
  • providing or receiving training for making explosives or weapons or noxious or hazardous substances. This provision would also apply to "lone wolves" studying to carry out an attack on their own,
  • public incitement to commit terrorism or advocating terrorism, either directly or indirectly through the glorification of such acts, that intentionally caused danger of new offences. (Member states would be required to ensure the prompt removal of online content that constitute public provocation to commit terrorism or, if not possible, block such content while ensuring judicial redress and compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights), and
  • providing funds to commit or contribute to terrorism (member states would also be required to take measures to freeze or seize such funds).

The text agreed by the Parliament obliges EU Member States to exchange relevant information in relation to criminal proceedings on terrorist offences as soon as possible, if the information could be used to prevent future attacks or assist other ongoing investigations or proceedings.

Following the committee vote, the deal needs to be endorsed by Parliament as a whole and by EU ministers.

The UK and Ireland will not be bound by the directive, but may notify the Commission of their intention to opt-in, if they so wish. Denmark will not be covered by the directive.

Procedure file, European Parliament

Combating terrorism [EU Legislation in Progress] July 2016

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