Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos on the 18th Security Union report, Brussels 20/3/2019

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20 Mar 2019
  • Αβραμόπουλος Avramopoulos
  • Αβραμόπουλος Avramopoulos


Ladies and gentlemen,

The developments in the last few days have reminded us once again that the threat of extremist violence and terrorism is polymorphous, and unabating.

Following the attack in Christchurch, I spoke to the New Zealand Minister on Monday and expressed our solidarity, offering any support they may need from the EU and Europol.

More than ever, we need a comprehensive, European and international approach in tackling security threats.

We are on the right track with how we are delivering under our Security Union.

15 out of 22 security legislative initiatives proposed by this Commission have already made it in to the statute book.

But there is scope to do more still.

I want to say something on radicalisation and extremist violence.

The horrendous terrorist attack in Christchurch, inspired by the attack on the island of Utoya in Norway almost 8 years ago, is a wake-up call.

It should be a wake-up call at least for those who are blinded by the idea that violent extremism or terrorism is by default religiously motivated, or can only be associated with Islamist fundamentalism.

If we want to prevent even deeper rifts in our societies from turning communities against each other, we have to act now.

We have to equally fight the threat of the far right radicals willing to take up arms, in the same way we tackle the potential Jihadi rising out of our societies.

Member States need to recognise and treat all forms of extremism in the same way.

As always, we are ready to support them in every way we can – both with core security measures, but also with softer, approaches to the prevention of radicalisation.

In the run up to the European elections, we know that certain politicians are ready to exploit these rifts, and build political careers on fear and fake news.

We must do everything to prevent this.

This brings me to my second point: the internet and disinformation.

Julian and Mariya will give you more details about where we stand with our actions against disinformation.

But when it comes to terrorist content online, we have seen its effects in the context of the Christchurch attack: in terms of beforehand and radicalisation, as well as the seventeen-minute live-streaming footage of the attack that stayed and spread on social media channels for hours before being removed.

But the damage had been done.

For 24 hours, Facebook says that it was deleting millions of copies of the footage.

But this footage should never have gone online in the first place!

This is precisely why we need legislation with teeth and sanctions to force these companies to comply and remove terrorist content.

I hope the Parliament and Council will help us to be on the right side of history by adopting our proposed legislation on terrorist content online now and in any case before the European elections.

Thirdly and finally: Member States need to deliver on what they agreed and adopted and

For example, we adopted tough rules on firearms, but 22 Member States are not implementing the new rules properly, so we have opened infringement procedures.

We see now for example that New Zealand is moving to tighten its legislation on gun control.

If we are not serious about implementing the landmark decisions we agree on, we risk having more victims in Europe.

Citizens demand more safety and security from us.

This is why all Member States must fully endorse our European approach on security.

We cannot be running behind events. We must act pre-emptively.

And this is precisely what we have been doing through the Security Union.

This week we commemorate three years since the Brussels attacks, here at the heart of Belgium and Europe.

Earlier this week, Utrecht was hit by an atrocious and violent attack, and we are still waiting for the results of the investigation.

In many European cities, the healing process of our societies and communities is still ongoing.

We must continue working together at all levels to prevent such atrocities from happening again.

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