A Labour MEP today led the European Parliament's efforts to step up EU action on counter-terrorism and security following the recent heightened threats and atrocities, including the latest bombing attacks in Turkey aimed at destabilising a key ally and NATO member.
The civil liberties, justice and home affairs (LIBE) committee, chaired by Claude Moraes MEP, launched the new European Counter-Terrorism Centre (ECTC). Alongside the widely respected Europol, headed by a British former police officer, Rob Wainwright, the new ECTC will be a significant step up in boosting Europol and the EU's counter-terrorism work.
It follows the recent vote in the LIBE committee in which MEPs backed Passenger Name Records (EU PNR), a critical tool in the tracking of potential terrorists in the EU.
Claude Moraes MEP said:
"The new ECTC builds on the solid reputation of Europol in detecting and preventing terrorism on EU soil.
"I will introduce for the first time a presentation by the organisation which will show that it will create a new Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA), a version of which will connect counter-terrorism authorities in EU Member States with third countries outside the EU.
"The ECTC will improve the Europol information system which has been successful in tracking so-called foreign terrorist fighters and is crucial in the future in dealing with this threat.
"The LIBE meeting will also hear a counter-terrorism exchange of views which will focus on progress being made on the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP), support to the investigations related to the Paris attacks on 13 November, systematic cross-checking between databases such as the Schengen Information System II (SIS II), Frontex and the Europol database to ensure better exchange of information - a key failing identified in the past few weeks.
"At all times the European Parliament will ensure that the use of sensitive data is in line with the best fundamental rights practice and this too will be raised at the meeting as a way of strengthening the new initiatives on anti-terrorism.
"In the run up to the EU referendum, it is important that UK citizens will see the added value of justice and home affairs measures at EU level - in this case, measures which will keep them safe."