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Brussels, 30 October 2019
I am pleased to be back with you today for the third time in just two weeks, this time to give you an update on our work on security.
This Commission made security a priority from day one. The European Agenda on Security, which I presented to you in 2015, has been our guiding principle and, together with Julian, we have been working to build an effective and genuine Security Union.
This Commission has taken the lead on security, something that was inconceivable some years ago. Security has always been considered as matter of national competence.
I am proud that we managed to change this mentality and that we are working on truly European solutions: the Security Union we are building is about trust, sharing resources, and facing threats together.
There is no fundamental right without security. Citizens – rightly, I think – expect their Union to provide that for them.
Whilst we have achieved a lot over the past years – EU institutions together with Member States – I will only mention a few key points that are included in our 20th Security Union report before I hand over the floor to Julian.
Let me start with the Schengen Information System: We have managed not only to strengthen it, but also made sure it is used more systematically. Since 2014, its use has increased by 325%. During the same period the system was consulted over 20 billion times.
With our Agencies, we are also working to develop new tools to better manage the external borders, including the Entry/Exit System and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System - ETIAS.
The quick implementation of these systems by Member States will be critical going forward.
The last five years, we have stepped up information exchange to provide those on the frontline, police officers and border guards, with access to accurate and complete data, making best use of existing information and closing gaps and blind spots.
Nevertheless, more remains to be done and we have to remain vigilant about emerging and evolving threats.
The attacks in Paris, in Halle and in Bayonne unfortunately served as a stark reminder of the threat posed by both right-wing extremism and jihadi-inspired terrorism.
The internet is now the most significant battleground for terrorists’ action in particular as regards radicalisation.
We therefore call on the Parliament and the Council to swiftly agree before the end of the year on our legislative proposal to take down terrorist content online.
In parallel we continue the successful voluntary partnership with the internet industry in the context of the EU Internet Forum.
The Forum is one of my proudest achievements in these last four years.
Since I launched it in 2015, the Forum has gone from strength to strength and contributed to many achievements such as: the establishment of the EU Internet Referral Unit in Europol and the creation of the database of hashes to make removals permanent and irreversible.
During our latest meeting earlier this month, we committed –together with Home Affairs Ministers and internet companies- to an EU Crisis Protocol that will help contain any viral spread of terrorist or violent extremist content online.
Our cooperation with the internet companies is and it should remain an essential part of our work.
Now on the external dimension of our security cooperation, today we are recommending to the Council to open negotiations with New Zealand in order to enable the exchange of personal data for law enforcement purposes with Europol.
This follows the discussion I had in March, immediately after the Christchurch attack, with New Zealand’s Minister of Police Mr. Stuart Nash, as well as, the visit by Julian to New Zealand in June.
This agreement will provide the necessary legal basis to strengthen Europol’s operational capabilities to engage with New Zealand on preventing and combatting crimes such as terrorism, cybercrime and drugs.
In taking such a step, we are further strengthening our cooperation with a key international partner and completing the Union’s contribution to the Christchurch Call for Action.
While security starts at home, we would be naïve to think that it ends there – especially today when the world we live in is more connected than ever before, and criminals or terrorists cooperate across national borders. This is why we have stepped up cooperation in our neighbourhood and with international partners.
Earlier this month, I signed counter-terrorism arrangements with Albania and North Macedonia and I am looking forward to signing the the third such arrangement with Kosovo later this afternoon.
These are a follow-up of the implementation of the Joint Action on Counter-Terrorism we have agreed with our Western Balkan partners.
I also signed the status agreement with Montenegro for its cooperation with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.
The one with Albania is already finalised and produces tangible results on the ground in fighting cross border crime and irregular migration. We are working on completing the remaining agreements soon too.
Over the last five years, we have come a very long way and have accomplished much, as this twentieth progress report shows.
As you can imagine, the work is not finishing today. It will continue under the new College.
Together with the Member States, the Commission will make sure that everything that has been agreed is implemented and therefore turn the idea of an effective and genuine Security Union, into a reality on the ground.
Today, we live in volatile and unpredictable times. Our neighbourhood is torn apart by conflicts spilling across borders. Our own citizens are becoming radicalised to terrorism and attack innocent people in our cities. Nationalism and populism are on the rise.
Only collectively with a strong Security Union and a global security role for Europe in the world can we protect our citizens.