As the world looks back on the terrible events of 11 September 2001, the EU remembers the victims of terrorism everywhere, and reflects on what has been done to combat the risks of terrorism at home and abroad.
'10 years after the 9/11 attacks, the European Union remembers the victims of that terrible day and all those who have suffered at the hands of terrorists. We in Europe continue to work hard to put into effect the global strategy to combat terrorism agreed in 2006. We are striving both to eliminate the threat of terror and to address its causes. That is why we support all those who promote democracy and development around the world.'
'Next week, I will be in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, where I will address the UN Symposium on Counter-Terrorism and participate in the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum, in which the EU has played a prominent role. I hope these events will recommend a number of key actions to further enhance international cooperation in the fight against terrorism', said Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission.
European leaders made it clear immediately after the New York and Washington attacks that the EU stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the US. They reaffirmed their own and the world’s solidarity after the attacks that followed in Madrid, London, Bali, Mumbai and elsewhere. In the words of EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove: ‘The EU rejects and fights violence regardless of motivation – be it right wing or left wing extremist, separatist, or Al Qaeda-related terrorism.'
The EU has been quick to react to the threat of terrorism. Once terrorism had been identified as one of the biggest threats facing Europe in 2003, the post of EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator was created. By 2005, an EU Counter-Terrorism Strategy was in place, which was followed by separate strategies on radicalisation, recruitment, terrorism financing, and media communication.
These actions have made it easier for EU countries to apply criminal law procedures to terrorism. They have also ensured that recruitment and propaganda tools are not easily available to terrorist groups.
More recently, the EUROPOL ‘First Responders Network’ was used for the first time, following the shootings in Norway in July, and on 9 September, a Radicalisation Awareness Network was launched.
‘The EU needs to do more to counter the threat of growing violent extremism,’ said Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström as she launched the network. ‘Experience has shown that terrorism cannot be linked to one faith or political persuasion, nor any particular region. Our efforts in the fight against violent extremism must therefore take into account the different patterns of radicalisation.’
Other initiatives have included intensifying transport security, carrying out strategic intelligence assessments of the terrorist threats, and sharing data. The EU has also stepped up cooperation with its partners worldwide – it is one of the strongest proponents of the UN’s counter-terrorism strategy, and has programmes in place to support capacity-building and development in those countries where security and development are linked.