Foreign Policy Blogs

EU’s renewed strategy to tackle global terror

Recent attempt by global terror outfits seeking to target European interests have heighted fear within the EU that an attack in the region seems an increasing possibility. Driven by these fears there has been a renewed effort to evaluate the regions counter terror initiatives. This has led the EU’s Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove to point out that the countries in the region need to in fact spend more in their fight against terrorism. Speaking on Thursday he pointed out that EU nations were in fact spending too little towards this effort. He went on to urge the 27-member bloc to increase development aid to areas where militant groups are known to operate. He pointed out the need spend more to help national governments tackle terrorism in countries like Yemen, Pakistan or sub-Saharan Africa.

Kerchove was speaking through a written presentation to EU interior or home affairs ministers, which they were to debate on Thursday. He pointed out that there was a need to bring about a “step-change in the amount which the EU devotes to counter-terrorism assistance”. He went on to add that, “if the EU is to be a serious actor in promoting global stability … it needs to put proper resources behind this.” In his presentation, Kerchove said that the aviation sector remained a high priority target for Islamist militants, and that Europe’s land transport networks were also inadequately protected from an attack if it was to happen.

At the meeting being held in Brussels, Interior or Home Affairs ministers of EU nations are also due to deliberate on ways of increasing air cargo security. The urgent need for this deliberation has been felt after bombs were found on U.S.-bound planes in October. There is also a call for the sharing of passenger data with Washington in pursuit of suspects. Along with the threat of bomb attacks there has also been spate of arrests of people suspected of planning Islamist attacks in Europe and travel warnings in the EU that have highlighted growing security concerns in the region. Such concerns are also seen as being behind a U.S. travel warning for Europe in October, triggered by intelligence on a plot against European targets reportedly originating with a group based in mountainous northern region of Pakistan. It was believed that some members of this group were European citizens. Kerchove in his statement pointed out that it has been noted that in majority of plots detected over the last few years there has been an increasing involvement of such ‘foreign fighters’, European or American nationals.

Broadly speaking, policy documents of the European Union state that member nations have the primary responsibility for combating terrorism and the EU adds value towards this effort in four main ways. These include strengthening national capabilities, facilitating regional cooperation, developing collective capabilities and promoting international partnership. This current call for increasing financial assistance to national governments affected by the scourge of terrorism can be seen as a step in this direction. However, only time will tell how far these efforts actually enable countries affected by terrorism, to tackle the menace.