I would like first to indicate that the EU established the European Day for the victims of terrorism on 11 March 2005 to mark the first anniversary of the terrorist attack in Madrid. The EU also commemorates the victims of the London attacks in July 2005, among them, Ms. Rachel North, who has just shared her experience with us. The EU day for the victims of terrorism is a day of remembrance, an occasion to express solidarity with the victims of any terrorist attack: those who lost their lives or still bear the mental and physical scars of such violence, together with their families. This European day shall also be an opportunity to reflect on how the terrorist threat can be addressed and prevented, and how the security of all citizens can be better protected.
Assisting the victims of terrorism and their families is an important goal for the European Commission as well as the EU as a whole as illustrated by the French EU Presidency statement.
While the European Commission does not support directly the victims of terrorism, we have run a pilot project in 2004 and 2005 in order to support activities aiming at assisting victims. Twelve projects have benefited from EU funding for a total amount of 3 millions euros.
In July 2006, the Commission adopted a preparatory action aiming at promoting European cooperation between victim support organisations, sharing of resources and best practices as well as organisations of public awareness events. The call for proposals attracted candidates from the field of victim support, associations representing victims and municipalities. Seven projects have benefited from funding for a total amount of 1.8 million euros.
Another 2 millions euros were set aside in 2007 to finance projects aimed at supporting victims of crime including victims of terrorism under our 2007 Criminal Justice Programme.
In addition, this programme envisages the creation of a Network of Associations of Victims of Terrorism with a budget of 200,000 euros. The call for tenders was published in March 2008. The creation of the Network aims at a better understanding of the needs of the victims of terrorism. It will also strengthen European solidarity towards victims of terrorism and develop the representation of victims’ interests at EU level. It will also contribute to developing trans-national cooperation between associations of victims and allow them to defend their interests in the EU with a stronger voice. The evaluation of the bids is expected to be completed soon.
Under our 2008 Criminal Justice programme, we have decided to concentrate our efforts on victims of all crimes so that projects aimed at supporting victims of terrorism are not dealt with separately. In consequence, the amount set aside for these projects increased to a total of 2.2 millions euros.
In the field of external relations, the Commission is working on counter-terrorism issues with international bodies like UN CTED, UN CTITF, UNODC, OSCE, Council of Europe and G8. Effective multilateralism is the key to achieve results in this area.
At the same time, the Commission has initiated counter-terrorism related technical assistance programs for third countries. We help some 70 countries in their implementation of the UNSC Resolution 1373 (2001) using both our regular assistance programmes and our Instrument for Stability. For 2009-2011, our Instrument for Stability indicative programme on counter terrorism will be primarily focused on providing training and legal advice as well as supporting counter-terrorism activities in Sahel, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Finally, the European Commission is very keen on obtaining effective counter-terrorism clauses in all agreements with third countries and raising the issue with our partners in our political dialogue.