Let me first of all thank the Counter-Terrorism Committee for the invitation which it has extended to the European Union to discuss the efforts undertaken at the European level since September 11th to prevent and combat terrorism. The EU as a whole has followed the work of the Committee very closely – all the more so since the implementation of Resolution 1373 has been a central priority for the EU since the adoption of the Resolution.
Mr Chairman, the European Union presented a joint report to the Committee which presents in detail the measures adopted by the EU pursuant to Resolution 1373. This report has been circulated so we will now focus on two things. First, on explaining to the Committee the role of the EU in the implementation of 1373 – and thus explaining the background and context to the EU report. And second, on providing the Committee with some information on key developments which have taken place in the EU’s fight against terrorism since the submission of the EU report on 1373.
Background/context to EU report on 1373
Let me perhaps begin by briefly explaining why the European Union has submitted a report on the implementation of Resolution 1373 as a complement to the reports submitted individually by its Member States. First of all, it is obviously a reflection of the central importance which the EU as a whole attaches to the role of the United Nations in the fight against terrorism. The EU firmly believes that Resolution 1373 establishing a series of mandatory measures for all countries is a historic one. With this Resolution the coordinated action against terrorism becomes a priority for the whole International Community. And my own country, Spain, which holds the Presidency of the EU during the first semester of this year, has made the fight against terrorism one of its foremost priorities. I should underline also that the fight against terrorism is the top priority of our Presidency for the EU’s action within the UN.
The Member States and the institutions of the EU – notably the European Commission – have been working consistently to implement the commitments made on September 21st by its Heads of State and Govermnent, when they adopted an Action Plan, one of whose main instruments has been a ‘Road Map’, updated regularly by the Council of the EU. Many of those measures are of course to be found in the EU report on 1373. This Road Map has been made available for publication as a Security Council Document.
The submission of a separate EU report on Resolution 1373 is also a reflection of the fact that within the EU, a substantial proportion of the concrete measures that need to be adopted to prevent and effectively fight against terrorism, in line with the Resolution, are now measures taken at the European level. This applies to areas as diverse as financial sanctions, the provisions for granting and refusing visa and asylum applications, or money-laundering. It also applies in some degree to the European Union’s relations with third countries from the perspective of the fight against terrorism.
Mr Chairman, the EU report submitted to your Committee was not only a political statement on the importance which we attach to the process that has been launched by the UN. It was also a necessity for us in view of the extent to which, in many of the areas covered by the Resolution, we now act together at the European level.
New developments since the submission of the EU report
Mr. Chairman, as I noted earlier, the efforts of the EU to implement Resolution 1373 did not stop with the submission of the EU report last December. So let me briefly outline some of the main developments since then.
We have made further progress on the front of judicial cooperation within the EU. The crucial step forward in this regard was the agreement reached on two Framework Decisions. The first one concerns the creation of a European arrest warrant. The second, on combatting terrorism, notably lays down that all EU Member States must establish terrorist offences in their national law, as well as establishing serious criminal sanctions for these offences. Both of these are binding on EU Member States. Since our report to this Committee was prepared, we have made substantial progress towards implementing these Decisions:
- With regard to the European arrest warrant, the European Parliament gave a favourable opinion in February 2002. Formal adoption by the EU Council should now take place in May 2002. EU Member States will then have until 31 December 2003 to adapt their national legislation, and the European Arrest Warrant should then enter into force in the EU on 1 January 2004. A number of EU Member States have however already undertaken to apply the European Arrest Warrant between them earlier than this, from the beginning of 2003.
- Similarly, the Framework Decision on combating terrorism, received a favourable opinion from the European Parliament in February 2002, and should therefore be adopted formally by the Council towards the end of May.
Let me also mention a more recent measure which was not covered in our report to the CTC, a Framework Decision which provides for automatic mutual recognition of “freezing” orders for evidence or assets between the Member States of the EU. This would apply to freezing orders concerning all criminal offences where such a power is available under the domestic law of the issuing State, and it would apply in any case where terrorist offences are concerned. This new Framework Decision was politically agreed by the Council on 28 February. Formal adoption will take place once the European Parliament has been re-consulted and a number of parliamentary scrutiny reserves from EU Member States have been lifted (this is likely to occur before the end of the Spanish Presidency in June 2002).
In the area of operational cooperation between law enforcement agencies and judicial authorities within the EU, we have continued to move forward. This is a relatively new area for the EU – but again, it is one which has received a strong impetus since September 11th. Two initiatives in particular are concerned:
- The first is the creation of Eurojust, the European judicial cooperation Unit, which will seek to improve cooperation between national judicial authorities in the EU. Eurojust was formally created in March of this year. What may be of particular interest for this Committee is the fact that Eurojust will be able to conclude cooperation agreements with third countries.
- Let me also mention that further steps have been taken by the European police agency, Europol, towards effective cooperation with the United States in particular.
Relations with third countries
Mr Chairman, let me now turn briefly to a very different dimension of our efforts on counter-terrorism. As we mentioned in our report on 1373, the EU has begun to look at its relations with third countries in the light of the stand taken by those countries in combatting terrorism. Since the adoption of our report, we have continued to use the different instruments at our disposal – political dialogue, démarches, technical assistance.
Our overall objective in this regard is to promote counter-terrorism as an integral part of the EU’s common foreign policy. In practical terms, this has implied enhanced political and economic support by the EU for certain key countries. I will only cite here the role played by the EU in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. But we have also looked at our contractual relations with third countries to see how we can introduce the objective of counter-terrorism more systematically.
My colleague representing the European Commission will now add some observations concerning this last set of issues, as well as some specific points on issues which within the EU are within the responsibilities of the European Community.
I subscribe in full to everything Ambassador Perpiña has said. I would particularly echo his comments on the extent to which the measures taken at the European level to combat terrorism have been informed by the decisions taken by the UN since September 11th. Resolution 1373 is of course foremost among these as a cornerstone of the international effort to eradicate terrorism.
Relations with third countries / counter-terrorism clauses
In order to complement the Presidency’s presentation of the further progress that has been made at the EU level since the submission of the EU report, I wish to focus mainly on the last set of issues which the Ambassador mentioned – that is, the EU’s relations with other countries and in particular the technical assistance we can provide to them.
One of the tools which we have been looking at as part of our efforts to encourage and assist other countries to implement Resolution 1373 – and which was not covered as such in our report to this Committee – is the use of the EU’s agreements with third countries. Specifically, the EU has now elaborated an approach on the introduction of counter-terrorism clauses in its agreements with third countries as a tool to combat terrorism.
To sum up our thinking on this issue, EU policy will essentially consist of using a standard wording that requires both Parties to reaffirm the importance of the fight against terrorism and to co-operate in the prevention and suppression of acts of terrorism – and, moreover, to do so in particular in the framework of the full implementation of Resolution 1373 and other relevant UN resolutions, international conventions and instruments.
The precise form which such clauses could take will be decided on a case-by-case basis. It is an approach, which we have already started to implement.
Another dimension of this effort to help countries outside the EU implement the Resolution, which was also mentioned briefly in our report, is the provision of technical assistance. What we have done so far is establish an inventory of the kind of assistance which is already being provided in areas covered by Resolution 1373, and of the kind of further assistance which would be possible, under the EC’s existing external assistance programmes. We submitted this inventory, a Commission staff working paper, to the CTC last month, and I note that the CTC has made it available as part of the on-line directory of available assistance.
What our paper suggests is both that we are already providing a certain amount of assistance facilitating the implementation of 1373, and that there is substantial scope within our existing assistance programmes to provide further assistance. But I should stress that we very much rely on requests from our partner countries, those who are beneficiaries of assistance, to identify concrete needs and priorities for such assistance.
I should stress that we also attach great importance to the regional dimension of our assistance – we have some experience, for example, on working with our partners in the ASEM context on money-laundering, and we look forward to exploring how we can develop regional cooperation along these lines elsewhere.
At the same time, we are following very closely the work of this Committee, which we understand will increasingly look at how best to match up the assistance which is available and the needs of individual countries. We are of course also following closely, and actively participating in, the work which is being undertaken on the same issues in the G8 context. And we hope to coordinate our efforts closely with institutions such as the World Bank and UNDP.
We believe in any case that the CTC has a crucial and central role to play both in the assessment of needs – for which we understand the process of reviewing national reports will be a key element – and in coordinating donor efforts. What we should in any case avoid is an uncoordinated duplication of efforts. We certainly stand ready to continue to work closely with the CTC to see how we can best contribute to the overall effort by the international community. And we look forward to having discussions on this with your experts on technical assistance.
Allow me, finally, and again as a complement to what Ambassador Perpiña has said, to inform the Committee briefly of developments in a specific area covered by the EU report on 1373 – that is, the provisions of 1373 on ensuring that asylum or refugee status is not abused to provide haven to terrorists.
I wish just to mention briefly in this regard that the Council and the Commission are working on a number of proposals for legislative texts which concern issues relating to asylum procedures, the reception of asylum seekers, and the attribution of refugee status. In all of these, security concerns will be enhanced or clarified where appropriate, and issues such as exclusion from refugee status will also be covered. We are also continuing to work, with Member States, the European Parliament and other partners on the relationship between safeguarding internal security and complying with international protection obligations and instruments.
Mr Chairman, let me again join the Ambassador in thanking you for this very welcome opportunity to have a direct exchange with the Committee on the implementation of Resolution 1373, and on the EU’s wider efforts against terrorism.
As we have stated, both the Commission and ourselves are at the disposal of the Committee to work with you both on issues relating to the implementation of 1373 by the EU, and on the specific question of technical assistance.