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Martin Schulz has called for new measures to fight terrorism, including additional resources for courts and security services as well as a strategy to prevent young people from being radicalised. The EP president made the plea in a speech at the start of an extraordinary European summit on 12 February. “The onus is on us to protect people in Europe against terrorist attacks.”
Schulz said a new approach was needed as the nature of terrorist threats had evolved in recent years. The Parliament favours a multidimensional approach focussing on prevention, protection and prosecution.
One part of this is to prevent the radicalisation of young people. “These are people who have been radicalised while living in our midst,” he said. Radicalisation in prisons should also be tackled as well as websites promoting terrorist attacks.
Although controls of the EU’s external borders will need to be strengthened, the freedom of movement within the Schengen area should not be curtailed, Schulz said. He also stressed that the Parliament was committed to concluding legislation to facilitate the exchange of passenger name records between member states in order to better track terrorist suspects by the end of the year. However Schulz warned that a balanced solution was needed, including strong safeguards of fundamental rights.
In addition he said security services need more resources in order to be able to analyse the available data, stressing that many perpetrators of terrorist attacks in recent years were already known to the authorities. “We are in danger of drowning in data and of losing the ability to interpret that data effectively.”
The EP president reiterated the Parliament’s call for a comprehensive EU migration policy. He referred to an incident on Monday, when the Italian coast guard rescued 80 people making their way from Libya on dinghies with no food and water, but 300 of them are still missing: “Once more the European Union’s glaring lack of a proper migration policy was made apparent.”
The summit will also focus on deepening the Economic and Monetary Union. Schulz insisted on the need to keep the Parliament fully involved in the process. Key points for the EP are ensuring democratic accountability, improving coordination of economic policies, safeguarding the unity of the EU and paying more attention to employment and social protection. This should be achieved using the existing EU treaties.
Schulz also welcomed the results of the negotiations on Ukraine in Minsk. “We are all truly relieved that a common position could be reached in the end,” he said, adding that the EU had a key role to play. “It must maintain its unity at all costs and be ready to support Ukraine along the road.”