Terrorism: One of the Biggest Crimes

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The European Union continues to face an ongoing and complex challenge from terrorism and terrorist threats. For instance, it was stated that over 1,000 terrorist-related acts either succeeded, were aborted, or failed between 2009 and 2013. Many people in the member states died as a result of these attacks. Questions about the reality and scope of the terrorist threat in Europe have been raised in the wake of the horrific incidents that occurred in the European Union. Furthermore, such dangers raise the issue of how Europe reacts and what defenses have been put in place to deal with the heightened acuity. The measures and strategies developed in the fight against terrorism provided for in the treaties do not undermine the capacity and responsibility of the member states to maintain public order and uphold internal security. The present paper examines the success of the measures established by the European Union in the fight to counter terrorism. Moreover, some of the criticisms on counter-terrorism measures will also be documented concerning the European Union.

The European Union states that one of its primary objectives is centered on the need to maintain safety for its citizens concerning the security, freedom, and justice. The fight against terrorism is a prominent feature of this general objective; it is remarkable that irrespective of its political relevance and decade-long story, it has until recently received attention in the academic community. During the 1970’s Europe has already encountered several terrorist threats from the far left. Through terrorism, the first cooperation concerning justice and private undertakings were formulated under the TREVI network (Saurugger, & Terpan, 2015). The development of the diplomatic cooperation was classified as a pioneer to the third pillar, through the Maastricht Treaty. The formulation and establishment of both the first and second pillars were in alignment with the security and foreign policy (Drent, & Zandee, 2010).

The terrorist attacks on 11th September 2001, which took place in the United States soil, were later found out to have been planned somewhere in Europe. These findings created a common ground and reason to formulate and implement a plan of action on 21st September 2001 by the European Council. The need to have a plan of action was further rekindled the 2004 Madrid and 2005 London terrorists’ attacks. After the 2004 Madrid terrorist attacks on 11th September, the formulated extraordinary European council decided against forming the post of counter-terrorism coordinator (Keohane, 2008). It was after several consultations and meetings that the European Council came to a decision to implement the European Union Strategy to aid in the fight to counter terrorism. The formulated strategy was centered on four distinct objectives, track, respond, prevent and protect against terrorist threats. The approach recognized the need to establish and maintain cooperation with third countries as well as international bodies in fighting terrorism.

More efficient procedures by the European States to fight terrorism

In 2002, the European Arrest warrant was introduced (Klimek, 2015). The policy has been functional within the member states under the European Union since January 2007. Concerning the old policy on the arrest procedure, the procedure could last for more than a year. However, with the introduction of the new policy, the process only last for not more than sixteen days, for the submission of a complying wanted individual to a third state, while for an individual without consent it would last to up to 48 days. The European Union has had success in identifying and dealing with the financing of terrorism. The success is attributed to the adoption of a strategy in 2004, which was later revised in 2008. The anti-laundering package that was founded to identify any financing to terrorism made it possible for the union to strictly monitor making it possible to trace the transferred fund in and out of the union (Wesseling, 2013). Consequently, in August 2010, the Terrorism Finance Tracking Programme, which was an agreement between the Union and the USA.

The Union also focused on issues related to border crossing points and rules through the suppression of the border controls in areas such as the Schengen Area. The revision of the border controls involved enactment of compensatory measures, which involved centering on the common rules on border crossing and the inspection of the general public within the external borders. The emergence of the Schengen Borders Code was as a result of the regulation of 15th March 2006, which involved upholding of the code of no checks at the internal borders. However, the code could at times be altered when there were severe threats of terrorist attacks either to the public or internal security. The use of new technologies by the union referred to the as smart borders project; there has been a success in improving and strengthening of the border verification procedures of foreigners traveling into the European States (Ripoll Servent, & MacKenzie, 2012).

Effective police cooperation

The cooperation of the police within the Union has greatly improved. For instance, through the established police cooperation, the European Police, Europol, has managed to implement strategies and polices that make it possible for the member states administration authorities to have access to information on criminal phenomena. The main objective and top priority of the Europol is to ensure success in the fight to counter terrorism. Through the cooperation of the Europol and enforcement authorities the access to the asylum seeker database, Eurodac has been improved which has aided in the fight to counterterrorism-related activities as well as other criminal felonies (Cetti, 2014). The Prüm treaty established in May 2005, was eventually combined into the treaties developed in 2008, allowing the enforcement authorities to have right to use databases holding confidential information such as DNA, and fingerprint information. It is in 2008 that the condition on how to gain access such information were declared. The council in December 2001, published a list of people, entities, and groups that were associated with terrorists’ acts, and were the focus of restrictive measures. The European Union has adopted strategies aimed at guaranteeing the security of explosives and aimed at strengthening the safety of vital infrastructures.

Judicial Cooperation

The European Union Judicial Cooperation Unit (Eurojust), developed in 2002, has brought about judicial cooperation. The main function of the Eurojust is dealing with terrorist matters. Between 2006 and 2014, the Eurojust had held more than 40 coordination meetings. The fight to counter terrorist acts has been a success through the development of fruitful cooperation between the cooperative investigation squads and the judicial network that deals with criminal matters. The European Union has guaranteed transport safety through the enacted of relevant measures such as the European Aviation Safety Agency that started its operations in 2003. Moreover, corporate standards have also been put in place on the training of crews and checking of luggage, all in the fight against terrorism.

Political and external aspect of prevention

External dimensions and forces also aid the fight to counter terrorism. For instance, the Union has set up support treaties and entered into arrangements with third countries. Also, the Union has also undertaken projects to aid and reinforce the capacity to counter terrorism with strategic countries. The existence of the United States cooperation with the Union plays a significant role in this perspective. There are also cooperation agreements between the Union and the United States that address issues such as transport boarders, terrorism finance schemes, and strategies, shared legal assistance and expulsion, all in the effort support the fight to counter terrorism. The growth of the cooperation between the USA authorities and the Europol and Eurojust agencies have aided in the fight to counter terrorism in the European States. The came to an agreement concerning the transfer of passenger data. Besides, several other PNR agreements have been made by the union with Australia and Canada. States such as France have enacted policies that go beyond its borders, through the use of the external operations (Opex) to aid in the fight against terrorist acts. Such action raises the issues of the European’s Union collective support and response web18. Another significant line of action is the prevention of radicalization and violent extremism. For instance, the European Commission conveyed a radicalization awareness program that involved those that worked in the social and healthcare sectors. Other players that were involved in the program included the prison authorities, local authorities, and local police forces. The main advantage of the awareness network is aiding the exchange of good exercise and the development of activities concerned with those for instance in prisons, considered to have high probability towards violence or terrorist excesses.

Criticism of the counter-terrorism measures

The strategies employed at the European level in the fight to counter terrorism has involved the need to establish a balance between the suppression and respect of the ideologies of the rule of law. The concluded agreement between the United States and the European Union concerning the transfer of air passenger data was considered as a weak strategy in guaranteeing data security. The use of personal data by the USA obtained from the European Union as a strategy of fighting terrorism was faced with stiff criticism (de Frías, Samuel, & White, 2012). The verdict that was issued on 15th March 2015 instructing for the preservation of phone data by operatives was eventually nullified by the European Court of Justice. Another cause of lively polemic was the allegation of the transfer and unlawful imprisonment of prisoners by the Criminal Intelligence Agency in the European States.

Despite the fact that the European Union has managed to develop, and implement measures and strategies to help in the fight to counter terrorist threats there have been several weaknesses that have led to the suffering of the European mobilization. To start with the organization into pillars that were marinated till the Lisbon Treaty in 2007, threatening the approval and recognition of the global approach that was equally significant. Another obstacle hindering the success in the fight to counter terrorism could be attributed to the European Council accord rule governing the second and third pillars. The legal instruments constituted in the third pillar also hindered the fight on counter-terrorism. Another significant impendent to the great legal certainty was the limited duty and role of the court of justice.

The European action has not been fully operational. The development of cooperation standards between the police and judicial system by way of Eurojust and Europol has not fully utilized the capabilities of the agencies in the fight against terrorism and terrorist threat. Given the fact that Europol has successfully developed a support mission with respective member states to aid in the access of information, its effective function has however been restricted (Casale, 2008). The limitation to execute its full responsibility has led to the low and limited contribution and undertaking in cooperative investigation groups. Concerning the terrorism investigative services, they have regularly been accused of leaning towards the direct contacts established with their equivalents present and located in other member states. Even though the formation of agencies such as Eurojust and Europol was to facilitate the ease of access to information, the two agencies no receive information systematically on the procedures and convictions in progress being conveyed in the member states in terrorist cases.


With regards to the recently perpetual, pretentious terrorist threat the declaration of 11th January 2015 was an indication of the perseveration of the principle of action that could be considered as a part of a global approach. The developed and established police and judicial cooperation can comfortably rely on a more favorable legal framework conveyed by the Lisbon Treaty. Such course of action has resulted in rationalization which is evidently reflected through the replacement of legal structures. The Union is responsible for ensuring a high level of security, mainly through establishing effective measures that involve coordination and cooperation between the judicial and police authorities.


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Cetti, F. (2014). Border Controls in Europe: Policies and Practices Outside the Law. State Crime Journal, 3(1), 4-28.

Drent, M., & Zandee, D. (2010). Breaking pillars. Towards a Civil-Military.

de Frías, A. S., Samuel, K., & White, N. (Eds.). (2012). Counter-terrorism: international law and practice. Oxford University Press.

Keohane, D. (2008). The Absent Friend: EU Foreign Policy and Counter‐Terrorism. JCMS: journal of common market studies, 46(1), 125-146.

Klimek, L. (2015). European arrest warrant (pp. 103-104). Cham: Springer.

Ripoll Servent, A., & MacKenzie, A. (2012). European Parliament as a Norm Taker-EU-US Relations after the SWIFT Agreement, The. Eur. Foreign Aff. Rev., 17, 71.

Saurugger, S., & Terpan, F. (2015). Studying resistance to EU norms in foreign and security policy. European Foreign Affairs Review, 20(2), 1-20.

Wesseling, M. (2013). The European fight against terrorism financing: Professional fields and new governing practices. BOXPress.

April 13, 2023

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