Shielding European Cities from Terrorism: EU Urges Protection of ‘Soft Targets’

Written by | Thursday, October 19th, 2017

The European Union on Wednesday (18 September) called on its member states to better secure public spaces from terrorism and manage them while keeping that threat in mind. The EU Commission said it would provide more than €100 million ($118 million) by mid-2018 to support cross-border projects and protection of the so-called soft targets in cities: public spaces with a high concentration of people. Extremists have recently been targeting areas such as pedestrian zones, airports and concert halls in Barcelona, Berlin, Nice, Paris and London.

“We have to accept that the terrorists don’t stand still, they change and adapt their methods. We need to adapt our response,” said European Security Commissioner Julian King. He added that the Commission would enable local authorities, urban planners and security experts to meet and exchange best practices on how to “make public spaces safer without denaturing them.” Mr. King also promised more funding and technical support for law enforcement seeking to assess and decrypt seized cell phones or laptops in terrorist investigations. “Some member states are better equipped than others. We want to make sure no member state is disadvantaged,” he said.

Since 2013, Brussels has provided funding for 48 security-research projects related to the protection of public spaces, costing €195 million, involving technology for securing urban transport and surveillance-camera systems. The EU executive said that member states should consider security issues from the outset of any design, such as fitting new buildings with access-control zones. More detailed recommendations will be put forward by the Commission in coming months on how to minimize risk. The recommendations will include collision-avoidance systems, automatic emergency braking and the option for police officers to stop vehicles remotely.


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