Over the last 12 months I have researched and written three briefing papers, updating QCEA’s earlier work – 2005-2007 – on EU responses to terrorism. Policies relating to counter-terrorism at EU and Member State levels are numerous, technical and controversial, and the number and complexity of the papers reflects this.
Briefing paper 13 looks at the European Commission’s 2010 evaluation of counter-terrorism policy, the responses to it and the continued need for critical and independent evaluation.
Briefing paper 14a examines the relevant law and policy framework developments, including the Lisbon Treaty. Regarding the EU’s Prevent, Protect, Pursue, Respond policy framework, QCEA concludes that although the Prevent strand has been repeatedly reaffirmed as a priority area where more action needs to be taken, it is still not, in reality, prioritized. The broader aspects of prevention, i.e. social, economic and cultural equality and inclusion, are still largely neglected, or relegated as a problem only in countries outside the EU. QCEA would like to see more work done is the role of restorative justice practices in terrorist crimes.
Briefing paper 14b examines specific policy initiatives and our main areas of concern relating to human rights, democratic oversight and peace issues. The paper analyses various policy areas at EU and Member State level, including:
- the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme;
- the Passenger Name Record;
- the use of Terrorist Lists;
- Extraordinary Rendition, Secret Detention and Complicity in the Use of Torture; and,
- some worrying trends regarding the internet and counter-terrorism;
QCEA concludes that the EU urgently needs to get its own house in order with respect to human rights and rule of law violations, so as not to undermine its own attempts at minimizing the threat of terrorism.
There is a lot going on under the umbrella term of ‘counter-terrorism’, both at Member State and EU level. The number of concerns in QCEA’s three new briefings provides a strong rationale for what the LIBE Committee has demanded in a recent report: a full assessment of the costs, effectiveness and impact on civil liberties of counter-terrorism policies. Yet the European Parliament recently (13 September) postponed a vote on a resolution to pass this report and its recommendations.
The postponement was a reaction to the view of many centre-right MEPs that the LIBE Committee’s report was too critical, and it was postponed to avoid possible rejection. Yet, if the report is too critical, then a thorough evaluation would demonstrate this. So why fear an evaluation? Genuine scrutiny and accountability can only come about through greater transparency and democratic overview. Without this, there is a real concern, in the words of a 2007 Council of Europe report, that ‘governments are taking advantage of the fear generated by the terrorist threat to impose arbitrary restrictions on fundamental freedoms.’
QCEA calls on MEPs to vote in line with the need for democratic oversight and independent and critical evaluation of counter-terrorism policies. QCEA also calls on citizens of European nations to demand no less than this from their parliamentary representatives.
You can download QCEA’s three new new briefings below:
BRIEFING PAPER 13
Evaluating an Evaluation – “The EU Counter-Terrorism Policy: Main Achievements and Future Challenges”
BRIEFING PAPER 14a
Law and Policy Framework Developments Since 2005, Relating to EU Counter-Terrorism
BRIEFING PAPER 14b
Counter-Terrorism Policy Initiatives: Main Areas of Concern