The European Day of Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism was commemorated last week. The Remembrance Day was established after the Madrid train bombings on 11 March 2004 that killed 191 and injured at least 1800 people commuting to work. The EU has devoted this day to remembering all victims of terrorist attacks in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
In a joint statement (11 March), first Vice-President Frans Timmermans, High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini and Commissioners Vera Jourova and Dimitris Avramopolous stated that “each year since 2005, we remember on this date the victims of terrorist atrocities, regardless of their nationality. We express our sympathy and support to those affected.”
They continued: “Terrorists want us to be afraid. They try to spread hatred and fear, to create intolerance and to turn us against each other. This mentality has no place in our societies, our lives, and our European Union.”
“Every one of us must defeat these ideas, defend our fundamental values and rights, and protect our friendships built through diversity and multiculturalism. Communities must feel safe and nobody should feel isolated or excluded from society: this is our common responsibility.”
A new directive on combating terrorism, proposed by the Commission to step up EU’s common response to terrorism, was also adopted on 11 March by the Justice and Home Affairs ministers. The Netherlands presidency will start negotiations with the European Parliament as soon as the latter has adopted its position.
Ard van der Steur, the Minister for Justice of The Netherlands and President of the Council said: “I am pleased that especially today, on the EU Annual Commemoration Day for the Victims of Terrorism, we can deliver on our common endeavour to deal with new forms of terrorism and the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters. We need to show now we stand united.”
The proposal was presented in the context of the Renewed EU Internal Security Strategy and following the call of the Council for accelerated action in the aftermath of the Paris attacks of 13 November 2015. According to the Council, the proposed directive criminalises the following:
· Travelling for terrorist purposes, to counter the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters;
· The funding, organisation and facilitation of such travels, including through logistical and material support, the provision of firearms and explosives, shelter, means of transportation, services, assets and goods;
· Receiving training for terrorist purposes, including by providing possibility to investigate and prosecute training activities having the potential to lead to the committing of terrorist offences;
· Providing funds to be used to commit terrorist offences and offences related to terrorist groups or terrorist activities.
The directive will also complement the current legislation on rights for victims to ensure that victims of terrorism receive immediate access to professional support services providing for physical and psycho-social treatments, as well as information on their rights.
The Brussels Times