Taking stock of the developments since the beginning of this year, the report notes that a large number of priority files have been agreed – 15 out of 22 Security Union legislative initiatives presented by the Commission. However, some of the key proposals, such as terrorist content online and the European Border and Coast Guard, still require urgent action if they are to be closed before the European Parliament elections in May 2019. On this final stretch before the elections, it is also of utmost importance to redouble efforts to fight disinformation and boost electoral and digital resilience.
Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said:“The developments in the last few days have shown once again that the terrorist threat is multifaceted, global and not abating. We have made tangible progress towards building an effective and genuine Security Union, with stronger rules on firearms, on criminalisation of the preparation and acts of terrorism, and a new framework of interoperability for all our information systems. But we cannot stop here. I urge the European Parliament and the Council to swiftly agree on rules to take down terrorist content online, so we can better protect our citizens both from exposure to odious terrorist content, but also from the overnight radicalisation risk of susceptible individuals.”
Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said: “We have strengthened our resilience against terrorism and cyber threats. But the threats remain, and continue to evolve. And we need to keep working. The terrible attack in Christchurch underlines again the need to close down terrorist content online. And we have two months to reinforce the security around our European Parliament elections, working with Member States, civil society and, crucially, the social media platforms.“
Today’s report recaps the progress made on the main building blocks of the Security Union, including the closing of information gaps, building digital and electoral resilience, denying terrorists the means to act and addressing radicalisation. The report also highlights the following areas where further action is needed:
- Finalising priority files: A number of priority security files have been agreed by the European Parliament and the Council, including restrictions on the marketing and use of explosives precursors, the establishment of new EU information systems and the reinforcement of the existing ones allowing them to work in an interoperable way. Provisional agreement was also reached on the Commission proposal to strengthen the security of identity cards and residence documents. However, there are still important proposals, such as the removal of terrorist content online and the reinforcement of the European Border and Coast Guard, which can and should be agreed before the European Parliament elections.
- Building electoral resilience and fighting disinformation: Overall, considerable progress has been made towards more coordinated action on electoral resilience, including the introduction of stricter rules on political party funding. The Commission has also been closely monitoring measures taken to tackle disinformation by online platforms (full statement here). Earlier this week, the Rapid Alert System, one of the key deliverables under the Action Plan against Disinformation, was launched. However, given the time pressure ahead of the European elections in May, the Commission calls on all actors, notably online platforms but also government authorities and political parties, to redouble their efforts to step up electoral resilience and to counter disinformation.
- Enhancing critical infrastructure: With 5G networks set to become the backbone of global connectivity, any vulnerability could be exploited, potentially causing significant cross-border damage. To safeguard against this threat to critical digital infrastructure, a common EU approach to the security of 5G networks is needed. The Commission will issue a recommendation for a common EU approach to security risks to 5G networks, following this week’s European Council.
- Fighting terrorism and protecting public spaces: The Commission has been actively supporting Member States and local authorities in their fight against the threat posed by terrorism, among others, by better protecting public spaces. Following the discussions at the Operators’ Forum, the Commission together with public authorities and private operators has identified a set of good practices to strengthen the security of public spaces. In addition, to better support the victims of terrorism, the Commission will fund a new EU Centre of Expertise – a platform for practitioners dealing with victims of terrorism – which will be set up in 2019.
Finally, our work towards building a genuine Security Union does not stop at the EU’s borders. The negotiations between the EU and Canada on a revised Passenger Name Record Agreement are advancing well. The Commission calls on the Council to adopt the mandates proposed last month to start negotiations with the U.S. and with the Council of Europe on obtaining cross border electronic evidence.
Today, the Commission has also published its new Eurobarometer report on Internet security and cybercrime. The poll shows that Europeans are increasingly concerned about cybercrime, with 79% of them believing that the risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime is greater than in the past. You can find the full report here.
Security has been a political priority since the beginning of the Juncker Commission’s mandate – from President Juncker’s Political Guidelines of July 2014 to the latest State of the Union Address on 12 September 2018.
On 14 December 2017, the Presidents of the European Parliament, the rotating Presidency of the Council and the European Commission signed a Joint Declaration on the EU’s legislative priorities for 2018-2019, which underlined the central importance of better protecting the security of citizens by placing it at the heart of the Union’s legislative work. Priority was given to initiatives designed to ensure that Member States’ authorities know who is crossing the common EU external border, to establishing interoperable EU information systems for security, border and migration management, and to reinforcing the instruments in the fight against terrorism and against money laundering.
The European Agenda on Security guides the Commission’s work in this area, setting out the main actions to ensure an effective EU response to terrorism and security threats, including countering radicalisation, boosting cybersecurity, cutting terrorist financing as well as improving information exchange. Since the adoption of the Agenda, significant progress has been made in its implementation, paving the way towards an effective and genuine Security Union. This progress is reflected in the Commission’s reports published on a regular basis.
For More Information
Factsheet: A Europe that protects
Communication: 18th Progress Report toward an effective and genuine Security Union
– Annex: List of legislative initiatives
Staff Working Document: Good practices to support the protection of public spaces
Eurobarometer on Cybersecurity