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European Union Counterterrorism Strategy

Published November 30, 2005



European Union Counterterrorism Strategy

The European Union Counter-Terrorism Strategy was signed on November 30, 2005.



Council of the European Union, 30 November 2005: The European Union Counter-Terrorism Strategy


In response to the current terrorist threat, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) have introduced a global strategy to contribute to global security and build a safer world. This strategy promotes democracy, dialogue and good governance to tackle the root causes of radicalisation.

To combat terrorism effectively, the EU has set itself the following objectives:

  • increase cooperation with third countries (especially in North Africa, the Middle East and South-East Asia) and provide them with assistance;

  • respect human rights;

  • prevent new recruits to terrorism;

  • better protect potential targets;

  • investigate and pursue members of existing networks;

  • improve capability to respond to and manage the consequences of terrorist attacks.

The EU proposes four pillars to combat terrorism effectively: "prevent", "protect", "pursue" and "respond".


The "Prevent" pillar aims to combat radicalisation and recruitment of terrorists by identifying the methods, propaganda and instruments they use. Although these challenges lie with the Member States, the EU helps to coordinate the national policies, determine good practice and share information.

The source of radicalisation lies in the propaganda which depicts conflicts around the world as supposed proof of a clash between the West and Islam. There are a large number of factors which may create a climate conducive to radicalisation. They include poor governance, rapid but unmanaged modernisation and the lack of political or economic prospects and educational opportunities.

To combat terrorism, the "Prevent" pillar proposes to:

  • develop common approaches to spot and tackle problem behaviour;

  • hold in check incitement and recruitment in key environments (prisons, places of worship, etc.);

  • develop inter-cultural dialogue;

  • use non-emotive language to explain the European policies better;

  • promote good governance, democracy, education and economic prosperity through assistance programmes;

  • continue research and share analysis and experiences.


The "Protect" pillar aims to reduce the vulnerability of targets to attack and to limit the resulting impact of attack. It proposes to establish collective action for border security, transport and other cross-border infrastructures.

Member States have the Schengen Information System II (SIS II) and the Visa Information System (VIS), as well as the European Borders Agency (FRONTEX) to maximise the effectiveness of border controls. In parallel to these instruments, they are required to exchange their passenger data and to use biometric information in identity documents.

With a view to increasing transport security, Member States must together examine the weak spots of transport systems and enhance the security of roads, trains, airports and seaports.

The EU wishes to assess the threat and its vulnerability. It is a matter of devising a work programme, methods of protection against attacks and a European programme for critical infrastructure protection. Member States must also continue their efforts towards cooperation in the fields of non-proliferation of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials (CBRN).


The aim of the third pillar is to pursue terrorists across borders, while respecting human rights and international law. The EU wishes first and foremost to cut off access to attack materials (arms, explosives, etc.), disrupt terrorist networks and recruitment agents and tackle the misuse of non-profit associations.

The second aim of "Pursue" is to put an end to sources of terrorist financing by carrying out inquiries, freezing assets and impeding money transfers. The EU proposes to implement legislation on money laundering and cash transfers. The third aim is to put an end to the planning of terrorist activities by impeding the communication and dissemination of terrorists' technical knowledge, especially via the Internet.

Member States make the necessary instruments available to obtain and analyse information. They prepare joint analyses and exchange information through Europol and Eurojust. Each Member State reports on how it has strengthened its capabilities and on its national mechanisms.

The instruments used to respond to the objectives of "Pursue" are:

  • the analyses carried out by the Joint Situation Centre (SITCEN) and Europol;

  • the European arrest warrant and the European Evidence Warrant;

  • the Joint Investigation Teams;

  • the principle of availability of law enforcement information;

  • VIS and SIS II (for better information access);

  • the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which provides recommendations to be followed.


The risk of terrorist attacks cannot be reduced to zero. It is for Member States to be able to deal with them when they occur. The response systems to terrorist attacks will often be similar to those in place to manage natural, technological or man-made disasters. To make provision, full use should be made of the existing structures and Community civil protection mechanisms. The EU database lists the resources and assets which Member States could mobilise in the case of a terrorist attack.

In the event of an attack, it is vital to:

  • exchange operational and policy information rapidly and ensure media coordination (in the case of a cross-border incident);

  • ensure solidarity, assistance and compensation of the victims of terrorism and their families at national and European level;

  • provide assistance to EU citizens in third countries;

  • protect and assist civilian and military assets on EU crisis management operations.

Reporting and monitoring

The Council will review progress every six months. A high-level political dialogue on counter-terrorism, bringing together the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament, will be held during each Presidency.

This strategy is complemented by a detailed action plan listing all the relevant measures to be taken under the four pillars of this strategy. The Committee of Permanent Representatives will monitor progress in detail on a regular basis. The Counter-Terrorism Coordinator and the European Commission will provide regular follow-up and updates.