Tue. Nov 30th, 2021

Today, the Commission is issuing a report evaluating the EU rules on combating terrorism (Directive 2017/541). Overall, as a result of the directive, Member States strengthened their criminal justice approach to terrorism. Having minimum standards for defining and sanctioning terrorist offences within the EU has clear added value, preventing the existence of legal loopholes that may be exploited by terrorists.

The Directive also helped strengthen the level of assistance and protection provided to victims of terrorism. Its impact on fundamental rights has been evaluated as proportionate. Despite this positive assessment, several challenges remain in the implementation of the rules, and the Commission will continue working with Member States to address these issues.

As an example, some Member States report difficulties in proving terrorist intent, especially when it comes to gathering evidence located outside the national territory. To address this, the Commission and the European External Action Service will continue supporting the use of battlefield information to identify, detect and prosecute returning foreign terrorists fighters through the establishment of best practices, the exchange of information as well as project financing.

The Commission also encourages Member States to make use of battlefield information on suspected terrorists for creating alerts in the Schengen Information System. Another issue identified in some Member States relates to challenges in classifying violent extreme right-wing acts as acts of terrorism. The Commission will soon share with Member States an overview of actions to address violent right-wing extremism. Finally, cross-border victims of terrorism still face difficulties in receiving assistance and protection.

The Commission strongly urges Member States to designate single contact points for victims of terrorism. In addition to its support to Member States, the Commission is making use of its powers under the Treaties where necessary and has opened infringement proceedings against 13 Member States urging them to ensure correct transposition of the rules. The report will now be presented to the European Parliament and the Council. The Fundamental Rights Agency will also publish today a more detailed report including key findings.

The directive is the main criminal justice instrument to fight terrorism across Europe. It include provisions that criminalise and sanction terrorist-related offences, such as travelling abroad to commit a terrorist offence, returning to or travelling within the EU for such activities, training for terrorist purposes and financing terrorism, while also giving victims of terrorism rights to protection, support and assistance. The directive is an important part of the EU’s Counter-Terrorism Agenda.

A more detailed staff working document is also available online.