Sommaire: "The External Dimension of the Fight Against International Terrorism" - Speech by EU Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner (14 February 2007: Strasbourg)
Speech by Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, "The External Dimension of the Fight Against International Terrorism", Statement to the European Parliament plenary session, Strasbourg
Honorable Members, I would like to commend the rapporteur Luis Yáñez-Barnuevo García for his report.
Let there be no doubt: terrorism is a threat to all states and to all peoples. It is criminal and unjustifiable under any circumstances. Therefore the Commission fully shares the view of the report that terrorism constitutes an important threat to security, peace, stability and the democratic values on which the European Union is founded.
The Commission also shares the objective of combating terrorism globally while respecting human rights. All anti-terrorist measures must be consistent with both international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
While largely agreeing with the report, I would like to comment on two points. Firstly, the report is calling for the adoption of a definition of terrorism. While the UN has not yet agreed on a definition and while such an agreement seems distant, I would like to recall that relevant universal conventions and protocols provide a common legal understanding of what constitutes an act of terrorism. The Union also has a definition of terrorist acts in its Framework Decision on terrorism. These are solid legal foundations. Secondly, the report calls for the extension of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court to include acts of terrorism as crimes against humanity. We should be cautious before any altering the definition of crimes against humanity included in the ICC statute. Such an endeavour may be counterproductive in the efforts to broaden support for the Court. The complex relationship between international humanitarian law and the definition of terrorism may lead to further complications.
Honorable Members, the Commission welcomes the interest of the Parliament on the external aspects of the fight against terrorism. In the current environment of open borders, efforts to fight against terrorism internally and externally are linked. It goes without saying that Vice President Frattini and I are working closely together in order to make these efforts mutually reinforcing. We strongly agree on the need to support the UN consistently with our policy of effective multilateralism. Equally, the emphasis put on prevention is positive: conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism need to be tackled. Tackling the root causes of terrorism lies at the heart of our external policies. The report's recommendations for a more coherent and effective EU policy also largely go in the right direction.
Let me highlight the important contribution that the Commission makes to the fight against terrorism.
Firstly, with Member States, the Commission is implementing the 2005 EU Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Terrorism also features regularly during meetings with our partners and in international organisations. For example, as I speak a major meeting is underway with Commission participation in Berlin in order to prepare the Heligendamm Summit of the G8 in the areas of terrorism and organised crime.
Secondly, the Commission is an important provider of capacity building assistance to some 80 third countries, aimed at improving governance and administrative capacities in related areas. A number of priority fields mentioned in the report, such as border management and terrorist financing, are priorities for Community assistance.
Thirdly, Commission is working in new areas which should improve EU action in the fight against terrorism; such as the Protection of Critical Infrastructure, the fight against violent radicalisation and terrorist recruitment, bioterrorism, radiological threats, explosives, detection technologies, terrorist use of the internet as well as terrorism in the context of crisis management. And there are obvious links to our efforts in fighting organised crime and drugs trafficking. Afghanistan is a serious case in point.
Finally, and in reply to one of the requests of this report, the Commission wishes to confirm that it intends to produce a communication in the course of 2007 focusing on global and transregional security challenges. The focus will include key aspects relevant to human security and also focus on counter-terrorism. You may be aware of my personal commitment to support the human security discourse. What better way could there be address conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism than to promote both "Freedom from Fear" and "Freedom from Want".
Honourable Members, despite what is being done, I think we can all agree that we must work together and enhance our collective performance in fighting against terrorism. The Commission will play its part but I am certain the European Parliament will continue also to play its important role in this collective effort.