EU interior ministers are looking to join forces against terrorism

What is demanded for Europe: Better border protection, network control and even a tribunal for IS fighters

Eight dead after the Islamist terrorist attacks in Austria and France within just three weeks – a terrible result that is forcing Europe to cooperate more closely on counter-terrorism.

At the video conference of the 27 EU interior ministers on Friday, a lot of proposals and demands were on the table. Most of these are not new:

A stronger protection of the EU’s external borders is called for – and yet it will be years in coming. Only from 2025 will the promised 10,000 Frontex officials (in addition to national border guards) be on duty.

Too little “systematic cooperation”

But the greatest weakness in the common counter-terrorism, says EU Interior Commissioner Ylva Johannson, is anyway the lack of “systematic cooperation” between the national police forces. This cooperation only works well in a crisis or special case.

The plan is now to develop a uniform risk classification for violent Islamists and other extremists. Information on people who could pose a terrorist threat is to be stored in European databases and made available to other countries.


EU states before resolution: They want to have messenger services decrypted “specifically and legally”

Decrypt chats

The interior ministers also plan to look into encrypted messenger chats. What suspected terrorists write to each other via Whatsapp, telegram or signal could then be read by the responsible authorities.

But the excitement is great: Critics fear that all messenger services could then be eavesdropped on all users. Such keys could not only be used for legally correct surveillance.

Austria, in turn, is campaigning for a special tribunal for IS fighters in The Hague. As already stated in the government program, Austria would prefer to see the jihadists returning from Syria or Iraq convicted by an international criminal court (following the example of the war crimes tribunal in the former Yugoslavia).

However, Austria’s insistence is hardly given a chance. Several EU countries are against it.


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