Counter Terrorism

The terrorist threat is increasingly diverse and geographically diffuse. Although Al Qaeda (AQ) and its affiliates have been increasingly constrained through international action, the threat remains significant, complex, and very unpredictable.

For example: foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq; Horn of Africa/Yemen; Boko Haram in West Africa; security threats in South and South-East Asia. The alarming surge of ISIL in Syria and Iraq has accelerated current international efforts on the fight against terrorism and has a deep impact on EU's Counter Terrorism policy making especially regarding Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) and foreign fighters.

Counter Terrorism requires close coordination of EU and MS efforts and close cooperation with international partners, and seamless integration of internal and external Counter Terrorism work. The 2005 EU Counter-Terrorism Strategy based on prevention, protection, pursuit and response and the updated Terrorism Action Plan provide the strategic framework for the development of the EU’s counter-terrorism policy and actions internally and externally. The EU promotes a criminal justice approach on counter-terrorism while protecting human rights.

Counter Terrorism as a matter of national security is mainly a Member Stated competence. EEAS focuses on the external dimension of CT in close coordination with the MS in the Council Working Group COTER (Presidency-chaired) as well as with all relevant EU institutions involved. EEAS role is to coordinate CT external outreach and capacity building assistance to third countries by EU and MS, to ensure coherence and efficiency. Within the EEAS, Counter Terrorism related EU external relations – due to their security nature, are handled by the 'Security Policy and Conflict Prevention Directorate' under Deputy Secretary General 'CSDP and crisis response', supported by a dedicated CT Team within the Global issues and counter-terrorism Division.

The overall objectives of EU's external actions on counter-terrorism are:

  • Political outreach through specific Political Dialogues on Counter-Terrorism. Counter Terrorism Political Dialogues are held with a range of countries and institutions, including the UN, the US, Russia, Canada, Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Australia.
  • Multilateral Counter Terrorism Coordination: EU actively supports the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy, which has just been reviewed in 2014. Support to the implementation of relevant UNSCRs in particular 1267, 1373, 2170 and 2178. Also EU is an active participant of the Global CT Forum (GCTF), and co-chair with Turkey its Horn of Africa working group and support key GCTF initiatives on rule of law (International Institute on Criminal justice and Rule of law in Malta) and countering violent extremism (Hedayah Centre, Abu Dhabi, GCERF in Geneva). Since 2015, the EEAS is a member of the IIJ Malta and Abu Dhabi Hedayah Centre Board as well as alternate member of the Geneva GCERF Board.
  • Establishment and implementation of specific EU Counter Terrorism regional and country strategies/Action Plans: Syria/Iraq CT/Foreign Fighters strategy, EU Pakistan CT/security strategy, Sahel development and security strategy and EU Horn of Africa/Yemen Counter Terrorism Action Plan.
  • EU promotes mainstreaming of Counter Terrorism into EU's foreign policy and addressing the nexus of development and security.
  • Programming of EU capacity building measures to support counter-terrorism efforts in third countries and coordination with key partners including donors and recipients.

Since 1 November 2014, the Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos deals in the European Commission with counter-terrorism issues inside the EU. The EEAS works closely with the relevant services of European Commission (HOME, JUST, DEVCO, FPI) and its relevant agencies (Europol/Eurojust) in particular in addressing the internal and external aspects of counter-terrorism and programming and implementation issues of EU CT capacity building support to third countries.