Directive on combatting terrorism: Council ready to start negotiations with Parliament
On 11 March 2016, the Council agreed its negotiating position on the proposal for a Directive on combatting terrorism. On the basis of this mandate, the Netherlands presidency will start negotiations with the European Parliament as soon as the latter has adopted its position.
The proposed Directive strengthens the EU's legal framework in preventing terrorist attacks by criminalising preparatory acts such as training and travel abroad for terrorist purposes - hence addressing the issue of foreign fighters - as well as aiding and abetting, inciting or attempting such acts. It also reinforce rules on the rights for the victims of terrorism.
Ard van der Steur, the Minister for Justice of The Netherlands and President of the Council said: "I am pleased that especially today, on the EU Annual Commemoration Day for the Victims of Terrorism, we can deliver on our common endeavour to deal with new forms of terrorism and the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters. We need to show now we stand united.”
The proposed Directive strengthens and updates the existing Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA, in particular, as it criminalises:
- Travelling for terrorist purposes to counter the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters;
- The funding, organisation and facilitation of such travels, including through logistical and material support, the provision of firearms and explosives, shelter, means of transportation, services, assets and goods;
- Receiving training for terrorist purposes, including by providing possibility to investigate and prosecute training activities having the potential to lead to the committing of terrorist offences;
- Providing funds to be used to commit terrorist offences and offences related to terrorist groups or terrorist activities.
The Directive will also complement the current legislation on rights for victims to ensure that victims of terrorism receive immediate access to professional support services providing for physical and psycho-social treatments, as well as information on their rights.
The proposal was presented in the context of the Renewed EU Internal Security Strategy and following the call of the Council for accelerated action in the aftermath of the Paris attacks of 13 November 2015. It takes into account the requirements stemming from several international texts:
- The UN Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014) and the Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe (CoE) Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, aimed at countering the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters;
- The standards of the Financial Action task Force (FATF) regarding the financing of terrorism.
European Day of Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism
11 March is also the European Day of Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism. It marks the anniversary of the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 and injured at least 1800 people commuting to work. The European Union has devoted this day to remembering all victims of terrorist attacks in Europe and elsewhere in the world.