I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
The EU supports the United Nations (UN) as the only truly global forum to combat terrorism.
By adopting the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy by consensus on 8 September 2006, the General Assembly and the Member States of the UN demonstrated their unity and resolve in combating terrorism. Now, Member States have the responsibility to implement this UN Strategy, nationally and working together with the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force.
The EU, working through both the Commission and EU Member States, is fully committed to do its part to implement the UN Global Strategy in cooperation with all other Member States of the UN, and, in doing so, giving support to the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force.
Additionally the EU places high priority on the swift conclusion of negotiations on a UN Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism and remains committed to achieving consensus on that subject in the UN.
Terrorism is a global threat and requires an international response. It is a threat to all States and to all peoples. It knows no borders. Our condemnation of terrorist attacks is unequivocal and our message to those who seek to impose their views on others through the indiscriminate targeting of innocent people is clear: Terrorism is criminal and is unjustifiable in any circumstances.
The EU urges Member States, if they have not already done so, to ratify or accede to all sixteen UN Counter-terrorism Conventions and Protocols that form the solid legal basis of counter-terrorism measures. We also urge the implementation of all General Assembly and Security Council resolutions related to international terrorism, recognising that many States need technical and other forms of assistance in implementing these resolutions.
The EU emphasises that any measures we undertake to prevent and combat terrorism must comply with our obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law, refugee law and humanitarian law. We would like to reiterate that effective counter-terrorism measures and the protection of human rights are not conflicting but rather complementary and mutually reinforcing goals.
In terms of the global fight against terrorism the UN has a unique role to play. We welcome this informal review and trust that it will lead to even greater focus on the practical measures necessary to implement the strategy more widely in the coming year. Let me also say that we now count on the support of the newly appointed EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Mr Gilles de Kerchove, to help us maximize and improve the dialogue and cooperation with partners in the area of counter terrorism, in order to vigorously combat this scourge both at national and multilateral levels.
Mr Chairman, turning to the specifics of the strategy and EU progress against these Measures:
Measures to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism
The EU works closely with the United Nations to help prevent and solve conflicts and preserve peace in various parts of the world. We recognise that the peaceful resolution of conflicts contributes to strengthening the global fight against terrorism. Through its military and civilian crisis management operations under ESDP the EU contributes to improving the security environment.
The EU and its Member States are fully committed to the timely and full realisation of the development goals and objectives agreed at the major United Nations conferences and summits, including the Millennium Developments Goals. The EU (Commission and Member States) are the world’s biggest provider of Official Development Assistance. Only five States currently meet the UN target of 0.7 % of GDP to be spent on development assistance; four of these are EU Member States.
Development and social inclusion agendas are policies of paramount importance to the EU and are pursued through a great number of tools.
In order to prevent people from turning to terrorism and to stop the next generation of terrorists from emerging, the EU has agreed a comprehensive strategy and action plan for combating radicalisation and recruitment into terrorism. The EU Strategy for Combating Radicalisation and Recruitment to Terrorism defines dialogue, tolerance and understanding as core EU aims in the prevention of the emergence of terrorism. Demonstrating commitment to the power of dialogue, tolerance and understanding, numerous EU Member States have become friends of the Alliance of Civilisations Initiative.
The EU unreservedly rejects any attempt to identify one religion or civilisation with terrorism. Terrorism is a method to pursue political objectives; as such, it is not confined to one belief system or political persuasion
At the same time, there is no doubt that religions and beliefs can be and are abused for political purposes. The EU understands the importance of enhancing mutual knowledge of cultures and religions and raising awareness on the abuse of any religion or beliefs for purposes of violent radicalisation, improving engagement with spiritual/political leaders, facilitating cross-cultural dialogue between media professionals, empowering counter-terrorist voices, and monitoring recruitment and grooming of terrorists over the internet.
The European Union is committed to involving civil society in its counter-terrorism efforts, and believes it has an important role to play in addressing the issues conducive to the spread of terrorism.
Furthermore, the EU Strategy for Combating Radicalisation and Recruitment outlines the EU objective to empower mainstream voices by promoting education. The European Commission actively seeks to encourage European citizenship based on tolerance and understanding through various projects and studies, e.g. competence building for professionals, spokespersons, and spiritual/political leaders and youth organisations. The EU is fully supportive of the work of UNESCO.
An EU pilot project, with a wide variety of individual projects, has been launched to help the victims of terrorism and their families. This is in itself a very useful example of what can be done to support of victims of terrorism. Additionally funds for support to victims have been set aside under the Programme for the prevention of and fight against crime 2007 2013.
Measures to prevent and combat terrorism
The EU CT Strategy and Action Plan, adopted in December 2005, contain extensive measures to prevent and combat terrorism. This includes measures to protect citizens and infrastructure and reduce our vulnerability to attack, through improved security of borders (including biometric passports), transport and critical infrastructure.
The EU has specific policies to pursue and investigate terrorists across our borders and globally; to impede planning, travel, and communications; to disrupt support networks; to cut off funding and access to attack materials, and to bring terrorists to justice.
The European Arrest Warrant, which has so far led to the extradition of more than 2000 criminal suspects, is increasingly being employed as a tool against terrorism and other forms of major crime.
The EU has adopted various instruments to enhance the exchange of information among Member States and among Member States and EU bodies. The level of exchange of information is being constantly evaluated. More recently a framework decision on simplifying exchange of information and intelligence between law enforcement authorities was adopted in December 2006.
Several measures aim at strengthening information exchange in the fight against terrorism. In the 7th Research Framework Programme (2007-2013) significant funding will be devoted to enhancing the protection against conventional explosives and against non-conventional terrorist attacks (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear).
The EU Strategy to fight terrorist financing was adopted in 2004, and is updated on a six monthly basis. Progress has continued in transposing the nine FATF Special Recommendations into EU Law.
Another field in which the EU is actively implementing the resolutions of the UN Security Council is the fight against incitement to crime and especially to terrorist acts, as laid down in SC Resolution 1624 (2005). Incitement to crime is prohibited in the legislative systems of all EU Member States. Additionally incitement to terrorism is covered by the EU Framework Decision on Combating Terrorism.
The EU is running a Check the Web project dealing with the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes. The German Presidency initiated this “Check the Web” initiative, which is aimed at intensifying cooperation on monitoring and analyzing the Internet in the context of counter terrorism. In the first half of 2007 two expert meetings were held in Germany and the Europol portal was set up. Council conclusions on cooperation to combat terrorist use of the Internet “Check the Web” were adopted at the meeting of the JHA Council on 12-13 June 2007. During the Portuguese Presidency work on the initiative (strengthening the expert network, exchanging information on legal action against terrorist websites, developing the portal) and its sub-project As Sahab will continue.
We are also concerned to prepare ourselves, in the spirit of solidarity, to manage and minimise the consequences of a terrorist attack, by improving capabilities to deal with the aftermath, the coordination of the response to, as well as the needs of victims of a terrorist attack. During the Portuguese Presidency the second exercise to test the Emergency and Crisis Coordination Arrangements (CCA) system took place between the 6th and the 14th of September 2007 (the first exercise took place between the 27th and 31st of October 2006). The exercise was held in close cooperation with the Commission, Sitcen and Europol. By the end of the Presidency at the JHA Council meeting it is intended to draw Council Conclusions of the crisis coordination exercise focusing on public communication and possible methodological change. On victims, a pilot project has been launched to help victims of terrorism and their families. Additional funds for support to victims have been set aside under the Programme for the prevention of and fight against crime of 2007-2013.
Measures to build States capacity to prevent and combat terrorism and to strengthen the role of the United Nations in this regard.
Helping to build UN Member States capacity to prevent and combat terrorism plays a significant and growing part in the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the Union and in its wider international relations. The EU is providing support to the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement (JCLEC) and to the African Centre for Study and Research of Terrorism (CAERT). The EU favours the establishment and development of regional centres.
The EU is keen to support the United Nations counter-terrorism co-operation and technical assistance projects. Relevant UN bodies are regularly invited to attend EU Council Working Group on Counter-Terrorism (COTER) meetings, including the UN Countering Terrorism Implementation Task Force and members of CTED. During 2007, UN ASG Robert Orr, CTED representative Dr Jean-Phillipe Morange and Recruitment and Extremism Working Group Chair Richard Barrett have attended our meetings. It is hoped that this will lead to future joint EU / UN projects in this area. It is hoped that this will lead to future joint EU / UN projects in this area.
Regular meetings and dialogues with partner countries regularly address exchange of information on cooperation with third countries and provision of technical assistance. In the framework of the Asia-Europe Meetings (ASEM) the EU has co-hosted two regional conferences on inter-faith dialogue.
The reform and modernisation of border management systems, facilities and institutions at the national, regional and international level is pursued through EU technical assistance to 3rd countries. The European Union provides counter-terrorism-related technical assistance to almost eighty countries and regional organisations.
Measures to ensure respect for human rights for all and the rule of law as the fundamental basis of the fight against terrorism
The EU does not regard effective counter-terrorism measures and the protection of human rights as conflicting, but as complementary and mutually reinforcing goals. The EU consistently promotes compliance with obligations under international law, in particular human rights law, refugee law and international humanitarian law, in its dialogues with third countries.
The Council working group on legal affairs (COJUR) has carried out extensive work on the identification of principles of international law applicable to the fight against terrorism.
All EU Member States are party to the core international instruments on human rights law, refugee law and international humanitarian law. The EU has developed public guidelines as operational tools for the EU and its institutions and bodies to promote compliance with international humanitarian law. In its dialogue with third States, the European Union promotes universal adherence to the core international instruments on human rights law, refugee law and international humanitarian law.
All EU Member States have effective and rule of law-based criminal justice systems, ensuring that terrorist suspects are brought to justice. EU Member States have established terrorist acts as serious criminal offences in their domestic legislation. The new European Arrest Warrant ensures that national boundaries do not impede swift and efficient prosecution of terrorist suspects within the EU.
The EU fully supports the role of the United Nations in strengthening the international counter-terrorism legal architecture and has contributed to key UN documents for the fight against terrorism. The EU consistently promotes the reinforcement of the UN framework for counter-terrorism in its dialogue with third countries.
The EU and its Member States supported the establishment of the Human Rights Council in 2006. Seven EU Member States are currently members of the HRC.
The EU strongly supports the work of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, including with regard to her work on the protection of human rights while countering terrorism. The EU fully supports the role of the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, particularly in the context of the interactive dialogues carried out in the Human Rights Council. In 2006, the Special Rapporteur exchanged views with the EU Council working groups on human rights and counter-terrorism.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
*Croatia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.