The Security Agenda

The Commission set out a new five-year security strategy for the EU to combat the increasing threats posed by terrorism and cross-border crimes including cybercrime, in a Communication published earlier this week.

New, complex security threats have emerged in recent years, in part due to instability in regions neighbouring the EU but also because of evolving forms of radicalisation, violence and terrorism. Not only are these threats more varied and international in nature they are increasingly cross-border and cross-sectorial.

Following calls from the other EU institutions to ensure a coordinated response at the European level, the Commission’s Communication sets out a new security agenda for the next five years (2015-2020), to follow-up the previous EU security strategy adopted in 2010.

The new strategy aims to assist the exchange of information between the EU institutions, Member States, EU agencies and European law enforcement organisations to improve operational cooperation, training, funding, and R&D to combat three key threats, terrorism, organized cross-border crime and cybercrime.

Principles for Cooperation on Security Matters

The new strategy outlines five key principles upon which cooperation between the EU institutions, EU agencies, Member States and national authorities should be based:

(1) Ensuring all security measures respect fundamental rights and comply with the principles of necessity, proportionality and legality.

(2) The creation of an EU Security Consultative Forum, bringing together all relevant actors together to ensure transparency, accountability and democratic oversight.

(3) Ensuring that all existing EU legal instruments are properly implemented.

(4) Better cooperation between EU agencies and Member States. This involves deepening the cooperation between agencies, coordination with Member States and comprehensive programming.

(5) Linking the internal and external dimensions of security. This involves reinforcing links between Justice and Homme Affairs and Common and Security and Defence Polices.

Strengthening EU Action

The Commission considers that EU can contribute the most to the security information exchange, operational cooperation and support for training and co-funding for security.

(a) Facilitating Information Exchange

The Commission considers information exchange is crucial for security. The Member States must therefore ensure that current rules are fully implemented across the EU, notably the Prüm Framework which enables comparing DNA profiles, fingerprints and vehicle registration data.

The Commission also highlights the need to swiftly adopt proposals currently under discussion such as the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) proposal, to be able to track offenders’ moves and identify high risk airline passengers, the proposal for a new legal basis for Europol, which should increase its analytical capabilities and foster action by Member States, and the  2015 Data Protection reform, the proposal for a Data Protection Directive and the Data Protection Umbrella Agreement with the USA should ensure the protection of personal data.

The Commission does not consider that Member States are making full use of available tools to make the sharing of information easier. The Commission therefore examines the areas where information exchange could be improved.

While the Schengen Information System (SIS) is the most used tool and the Commission will evaluate its effectiveness in 2015-2016 to see whether legislative changes are needed. The Commission also wants the help Member States to use the SIS and the Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database of Interpol at automated border controls.

The Commission also plans to define common risk indicators to be maintained by Europol and Frontex, to assist national border authorities with identifying foreign terrorist fighters. Europol and Frontex should work together with Member States to develop and distribute risk indicators to be used with PNR data.

As regards the movement of goods, the Commission wants the Customs Advance Cargo Information System and the Anti-Fraud Information System (AFIS) to fully enable information exchange between customs and other law enforcement authorities.

Finally the e Commission wants to improve the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) so non-EU nationals are included as well. The Commission also wants to consider a European Police Record Index System (EPRIS), which should enable real-time, cross-border access to information with the Maritime Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE) serving the same purpose.

(b) Increasing Operational Police Cooperation 

The Commission considers that the EU institutions, agencies and existing cooperation tools already provide an effective set of instruments to implement the envisaged strategy. However, better synergies between EU agencies, systematic coordination and full use of all available tools could make a difference for prevention detection and response to security threats.

The Commission underlines the key role EU agencies can play and considers that the agencies need to work together to assist Member States in joint actions. The Commission calls for the revised cooperation agreement between Europol and Frontex to be implemented, and for Eurojust and Europol to work together more.

In particular the Commission feels that Joint Investigation Teams (JITs) and Joint Customs Operations (JCOs) should be used more to tackle cross-border crime and police and Customs Cooperation Centres (PCCCs) should pass information to the national and European level.

The Commission also calls upon Member States and third countries to make better use of the “EU Policy Cycle for serious and organised crime”, which enables authorities to coordinate common priorities and operational actions, based on joint threat assessments with Europol.

The Commission also wants better judicial cooperation through the European Judicial Network (EJN) and Eurojust should be used more often for cross-border investigations and prosecutions.

Finally, the Commission wants to see a better European response during crises and emergencies through coordination hubs, such as the EU Emergency Response Coordination Centre.

(c) Boosting Training, Funding, Research and Innovation

The Commission considers that security needs to become a priority in funding instruments, research and innovation programmes as well as training initiatives.

The Commission wants end-users to be involved and the encourage innovation in the area of civil protection through Horizon 2020 funding. The Commission also wants high standards for EU security products and points out it has mandated the development of a “privacy by design” standard to be developed.

However, the Commission considers that EU security needs will also require a more competitive security industry and the Commission is looking at possible actions to do this whilst also removing existing barriers in the single market.

The Commission wants the SIS, the implementation of the Prüm framework, Single Points of Contact, the EU Policy Cycle and the Radicalisation Awareness Network to be funded by the International Security Fund, which will be reviewed in 2018. Other instruments such as the EFSI, EU Justice, Customs 2020 and external action funding could be used as well.

The Commission wants the training aligned with the EU strategy in order to guarantee adequate use of tools. The Commission therefore wants the European police college CEPOL and national police academies to focus on cross-border cooperation. The European Judicial training Network and the European e-Justice Portal and e-learning should also benefit the training of the judiciary. The Commission has points out that it has established a European Security Training Centre.

Finally, the Commission wants to see a better exchange of forensic data. The Commission is therefore considering the creation of a European Forensic Area, to align the processes of forensic service providers and possibly involving the definition of common minimum standards.

Key Security Priorities until 2020

The Commission identifies three priority threats for European security in the next five years: (a) terrorism, (b) Organised crime and (c) Cybercrime. The Commission notes that these threats are sometimes related and cross-border.

(a) Terrorism and Radicalisation

Firstly, the Commission wants to set up a European Counter-Terrorism Centre within Europol by pooling current anti-terrorism law enforcement capabilities, such as the Focal Point Travellers on foreign terrorist fighters, the EU-US Terrorist Financing Tracking Programme (TFTP), the upcoming FIU.NET that supports Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), and Europol’s knowledge on weapons and using the Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) to investigate terrorist activities online.

The Commission would also launch an EU Forum, bringing together IT companies, law enforcement authorities and civil society to counter terrorist propaganda and address any gaps in legislation pertaining to the incitement of hatred online. Furthermore this would be complemented through further research into new encryption technologies.

In order to tackle the financing of terrorism financing, financial operations should be tracked through FIUs, TFTP and FIU.NET. This would be complemented through coherent laws against foreign terrorist fighters. The Commission will therefore assess and eventually update the 2008 Framework Decision on Terrorism in 2016 to incorporate third countries.

Finally, the Commission was to reprioritise the EU’s policy frameworks and programmes for education youth and culture, to prevent radicalisation, notably through funds from the Strategic Framework for European Cooperation on Education and Training (ET 2020), the European Youth strategy, the EU Work Plan for Sport and the Culture Work Plan, Erasmus+, Creative Europe programmes, the European Social Fund and Horizon 2020. This will be complemented with work in prisons through the Organisation of Prison and Correctional Services (EUROPRIS) in the developing effective de-radicalisation programmes.

The Commission plans to set up the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) Centre of Excellence, to promote cooperation on anti-radicalisation with third countries, such as Turkey, the Western Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa.

(b) Organised Crime

The Commission wants to firstly extend the work of the EU Policy Cycle for serious and organised crime to neighbouring countries notably to focus on stopping migrant smuggling networks by stepping up cross-border investigations.

However, the Commission also wants to tackle organised crime by focusing on its financing, it therefore supports the implementation of the Anti-Money Laundering package and wants to promote such measures outside the EU. The Commission suggests linking Asset Recovery Offices to improve cross-border freezing and confiscation of criminal assets.

The Commission also suggests that the powers of Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) are aligned and reinforced to improve cooperation and information exchange. The Commission also calls for mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders to be improved and it will also review possible measures for non-conviction based confiscation as requested by the Council and the European Parliament in 2016.

Then the Commission will to address the trafficking of firearms drugs and people. The Commission will begin by reviewing legislation on firearms in 2016, focusing on information sharing, traceability, marking and neutralising weapons. The Commission also calls for the full implementation of an action plan with the countries of the Western Balkans and proposes other action plans with other neighbouring countries.

The Commission wants Member States to work together with Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). The Commission will also consider proposing a new EU Drugs Action Plan for 2017-2020 as well as a new legislative framework to address new psychoactive substances.

The Commission will however keep focusing on combatting human trafficking through good cooperation between the EU and third countries and the launching of joint actions. The Commission will include the issue as part of the European Agenda on Migration.

Finally the Commission will also consider strengthening monitoring and enforcement actions to combat environmental crime as well as a review of the existing legislation in 2016 and calls upon the European Union Crime Prevention Network to assist local authorities in tackling organized crime.

(c) Cybercrime

The Commission considers that the very nature of cybercrime requires a new approach to law enforcement. The key priority will be ensuring cyber security through the implementation of the 2013 Cybercrime strategy and the adoption of the proposal on network and information security.

The Commission also calls for renewed efforts to implement existing policies and legislation on preventing attacks against information systems and combatting the sexual exploitation of children.

The Commission will also review and possibly extend legislation to combat fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payments to address more recent forms of crime and counterfeiting in financial instruments with new proposals ready in 2016 and the Commission underlines the importance of cooperation with the private sector to protect citizens from online crime.

The Commission will also seek ways of overcoming obstacles to criminal investigations on cybercrime such as deciding competent jurisdiction and rules on access to evidence and information.

Finally the Commission will aim to make Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre to become a central information hub for law enforcement. The Commission will also increase capacity building through funding from external assistance instruments and promote international cooperation. The Commission also calls on the Member States to ratify the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime as it remains the international standard for cooperation and a model for national EU legislation.

Next Steps

The Commission requests that the new strategy is endorsed by the Council and European Parliament. Either or both of these institutions may decide to formally respond to it.

The Commission underlines that the new strategy must be a shared agenda and should be viewed by the Member States and the institutions as a basis for future cooperation and joint for the next five years.