11 March was the day European Commission marked as the European Remembrance Day for Victims of Terrorism – an annual event to commemorate the Madrid bombings of 11 March 2004, which took the lives of 193 EU citizens and injured thousands more. “Today, we remember all those who have lost their lives or loved ones to terror, irrespective of whether those terrorist attacks took place inside the European Union or beyond its borders. We pay tribute to all those affected by these heinous crimes, families and friends, and commit to stand united in our fight against terrorism,” reads a statement by the European Commission.
Security has been high on the European agenda since the current European Commission took over in July 2014 – from President Juncker’s political guidelines that he shared right after assuming the office through his latest State of the Union address in September 2018. The EU has put in place a strong legal framework to protect and support the victims of terrorist attacks through the Victims’ Rights Directive and the Directive on Combatting Terrorism. The Commission also finances related projects.
The position of Special Adviser to President Jean-Claude Juncker was also created for the compensation of victims of crime. In October 2017, Joelle Milquet was appointed and on Monday (11 March) she published her first report on strengthening victims’ rights from compensation to reparation. Fighting terrorism has been a top priority of the EU leadership. In 2017, there were 205 failed, foiled or completed terrorist attacks and more than 1,200 people were arrested in the same year. Out of the 205 attacks committed in 2017, 67% were committed by separatists, 16% by jihadists and 12% by left-wing attackers.