EU officials seek major changes to face security challenges
Apr. 28, 2015
STRASBOURG, France (AP) — European Union officials on Tuesday called for sweeping changes in bloc policies and practices to confront new security risks to its 500 million citizens from terrorism, organized crime and cybercrime.
EU Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans said there is still too much "mistrust and reticence to cooperate" among the 28 member countries.
"We need to make an effort to be more effective in providing security for our citizens," Timmermans said while presenting the EU executive's proposed "Agenda on Security" for 2015-2020 to the European Parliament.
The recommended steps include tougher controls on the buying and selling of firearms and creating a specialized counter-terrorism center at Europol, the Hague-based agency for EU-wide police cooperation.
"It is unacceptable that a Kalashnikov can be bought easily on the Internet," Timmermans said.
Improved cooperation on security issues catapulted to the top of the EU's agenda after the Jan. 7-9 terrorist attacks in Paris against a weekly newspaper and a kosher supermarket. Concerns have also grown about the impact of Europeans returning home from fighting with Muslim extremist groups in Syria and Iraq, as well as novel and sophisticated forms of cross border crime involving organized groups or the Internet.
"No single member state can attack this problem on its own," Timmermans told reporters.
"EU citizens expect us to trust each other, to share information, and to work effectively together," said Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU commissioner in charge of law enforcement.
EU national leaders in February agreed to cooperate more in the security sphere, but differences remain about how much authority to grant to states as well as EU institutions. A leading Socialist member of the European Parliament said the EU Commission proposals made public Tuesday are too intrusive.
"We clearly fear that security measures will eventually prevail over fundamental rights," Tanja Fajon of Slovenia said in a statement.