The European Union and Terrorism

Written by | Monday, March 30th, 2015

Alain Chouet (Robert Schuman Foundation)

The European integration is a project which protected the European continent from war for the last 70 years. During that time, our perception of an armed conflict has changed significantly. The only legitimate military power for us is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), notably the US. The European Union itself is standing aside, not interfering in military affairs.

The main strategy of the current terrorist organizations is not only the direct recruitment of new members but rather to incite hatred and mutual misunderstanding within individual Muslim communities across Europe, all that with the help of media and social networks. The terrorists do not have the capacities to begin an armed conflict. Their only instruments to achieve their objectives are small attacks in large cities, especially perceived attacks that target and corrupt the thinking of local Muslims.

This practice was probably also used during the recent series of attacks in Paris where the main goal of the attackers was to influence and corrupt the thinking of the French Muslim community and hack the integration processes by pointing to the perceived offences to the Muslim faith from the mainstream society. As the newspaper Charlie Hebdo is not known worldwide, a speculation at hand suggests that the attack was not orchestrated by any of the significant centers of Islamist fundamentalists in the Middle East but that it was organized by a small local terrorist cell.

Despite this plausible speculation, the Islamist threat of a terrorist attack and rhetorical demagogy in Europe is growing every day. Thus it is necessary for the states of the Union to unite and to stand by the United States in the fight against these organizations using military, political as well as diplomatic means. Another important factor in the fight against this modern day phenomenon is the education itself. While we can defend ourselves against the terrorists outside our borders by using military and political means, education, on the other hand, enables us to tackle terrorism directly within the EU.

Similarly, it is crucial to create a viable judicial and police co-operation among the Member States. The threat will be increasingly present if we don’t face the question of terrorism unanimously and if we don’t enhance the EU security capacities. Finally, an effective cooperation between the secret services and the police in the area of monitoring of suspicious persons is a key component in the fight against terrorism.

(The study can be downloaded here)

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