The EU and its Counter-Terrorism Policies after the Paris Attacks

Friday, 27 November 2015
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Authors: Didier Bigo, Sergio Carrera, Elspeth Guild, Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet, Julien Jeandesboz, Valsamis Mitsilegas, Francesco Ragazzi and Amandine Scherrer

Series: CEPS Paper in Liberty and Security in Europe No. 84  No. of pp: 16

This paper examines the EU’s counter-terrorism policies responding to the Paris attacks of 13 November 2015. It argues that these events call for a re-think of the current information-sharing and preventive-justice model guiding the EU’s counter-terrorism tools, along with security agencies such as Europol and Eurojust. Priority should be given to independently evaluating ‘what has worked’ and ‘what has not’ when it comes to police and criminal justice cooperation in the Union.

Current EU counter-terrorism policies face two challenges: one is related to their efficiency and other concerns their legality. ‘More data’ without the necessary human resources, more effective cross-border operational cooperation and more trust between the law enforcement authorities of EU member states is not an efficient policy response. Large-scale surveillance and preventive justice techniques are also incompatible with the legal and judicial standards developed by the Court of Justice of the EU.

The EU can bring further added value first, by boosting traditional policing and criminal justice cooperation to fight terrorism; second, by re-directing EU agencies’ competences towards more coordination and support in cross-border operational cooperation and joint investigations, subject to greater accountability checks (Europol and Eurojust +); and third, by improving the use of policy measures following a criminal justice-led cooperation model focused on improving cross-border joint investigations and the use of information that meets the quality standards of ‘evidence’ in criminal judicial proceedings.

Any EU and national counter-terrorism policies must not undermine democratic rule of law, fundamental rights or the EU’s founding constitutional principles, such as the free movement of persons and the Schengen system. Otherwise, these policies will defeat their purpose by generating more insecurity, instability, mistrust and legal uncertainty for all.

Didier Bigo is Director of the Centre d’Etudes sur les Conflits, Liberté et Sécurité (CCLS) and Professor at Sciences-Po Paris and King’s College London. Sergio Carrera is Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Justice and Home Affairs section at CEPS and Associate Professor at the University of Maastricht (The Netherlands). Elspeth Guild is Associate Senior Research Fellow at CEPS and Jean Monnet Professor ad personam at Queen Mary, University of London as well as at the Radboud University Nijmegen. Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet is Lecturer at the University of Manchester. Julien Jeandesboz is Professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Valsamis Mitsilegas is Head of the Department of Law and Professor of European Criminal Law at Queen Mary University of London. Francesco Ragazzi is Lecturer at the University of Leiden. Amandine Scherrer is European Studies Coordinator and Associate Researcher at CCLS.