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EU bolsters defence against new forms of terrorism

08 March 2017, 13:41 CET
EU bolsters defence against new forms of terrorism

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(BRUSSELS) - The EU bolstered its defence against terrorist attacks Tuesday by criminalising acts such as undertaking training or travelling for terrorist purposes, as well as organising or facilitating such travel.

"The EU is now better equipped to meet the challenge of the evolving terrorist threat," said Malta's justice minister Owen Bonnici, for the EU presidency: "Terrorism knows no borders, but the message is now clear: foreign fighters, whether they travel to, from or within the EU, will be stopped."

The new rules, approved by the EU Council, respond to the ever-present terrorist threat in Europe. They make a point of also strengthening rights of victims and include safeguards to individual freedoms.

The directive strengthens and widen the scope of existing legislation (Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA in particular). Specifically, it criminalises:

  • Travelling within, outside or to the EU for terrorist purposes, e.g. to join the activities of a terrorist group or with the purpose of committing a terrorist attack.
  • The organisation and facilitation of such travel, including through logistical and material support, such as the purchase of tickets or planning itineraries;
  • Training and being trained for terrorist purposes, e.g. in the making or use of explosives, firearms, noxious or hazardous substances mirroring the existing provision of knowingly providing such training;
  • Providing or collecting funds with the intention or the knowledge that they are to be used to commit terrorist offences and offences related to terrorist groups or terrorist activities.

The directive complements current legislation on rights of victims of terrorism by including a catalogue of services to meet the specific needs of victims of terrorism, such as the right to receive immediate access to professional support services providing medical and psycho-social treatments, or to receive legal or practical advice, as well as assistance with compensation claims. The emergency response mechanisms immediately after an attack will be also strengthened.

This now marks the end of the legislative procedure. Once the new rules are published in the EU Official Journal, EU member states will have 18 months to transpose them into national law.

While the UK and Ireland are not bound by the directive, they may decide to opt in. Denmark has an opt out on this Directive.

Text of the directive on combating terrorism

General Affairs Council, 07/03/2017

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