The European Council has reiterated its commitment in the fight against terrorism, hatred and violent extremism. The council said that these acts have strengthened their resolve to cooperate with European Union (EU) level so as to enhance their internal security. The European Council said that it will fight the spread of radicalisation online, coordinate their work on preventing and countering violent extremism and addressing the ideology, thwart the financing of terrorism, facilitate swift and targeted exchanges of information between law enforcement authorities. In its conclusions on security and defence, the council said that industry has its own responsibility to help combat terrorism and crime online.
Building on the work of the EU Internet Forum, the European Council said that it expects industry to establish an Industry Forum and to develop new technology and tools to improve the automatic detection and removal of content that incites to terrorist acts. The Council added that it calls for addressing the challenges posed by systems that allow terrorists to communicate in ways that competent authorities cannot access, including end-to-end encryption, while safeguarding the benefits these systems bring for the protection of privacy, data and communication.
The Council considers that effective access to electronic evidence essential in combating serious crime and terrorism and that, subject to appropriate safeguards, the availability of data should be secured. The council noted that the agreement on the entry exit system, which is expected shortly, and the finalisation before the end of the year of a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) will pave the way for their rapid implementation, thus enhancing external border control and internal security while taking into account specific situations in Member States which still do not fully apply the Schengen acquis.
In that context, the European Council invites the commission to prepare a draft legislation enacting the proposals made by the high level expert group on interoperability. It stressed on accelerating collective efforts to share knowledge on foreign terrorist fighters as well as home-grown radicalised individuals and take forward policy and legal measures to manage the threat.
The European Council also underlined the importance of providing support to the victims of terror acts. The Council reiterated its commitment to strengthening EU cooperation on external security and defence so as to protect the Union and its citizens and contribute to peace and stability in its neighborhood and beyond. The Council noted conclusions of 18 May and 19 June, saying that significant progress has been achieved in implementing the EU Global Strategy in the area of Security and Defence and the Joint Declaration signed in Warsaw by EU and NATO leaders.
It highlighted that the transatlantic relationship and EU-NATO cooperation remain key to our overall security, allowing us to respond to evolving security threats, including cyber, hybrid and terrorism. The high-level conference on security and defence held in Prague on 9 June 2017 underlined both the complementarily between the EU and NATO and the need to step up European efforts to strengthen our defence related research, capabilities and operations.
The European Council also welcomed the Commission’s communication on a European Defence Fund, composed of a research window and a capability window, and is looking forward to its swift operationalisation. It called for rapid agreement on the proposal for a European Defence Industrial Development Programme with a view to its swift implementation, before more comprehensive programmes can be envisaged in the medium term.
The European Council called on the member states to identify suitable capability projects for the European Defence Fund and for the European Defence Industrial Development Programme. The European Council has invited the member states to further work on options for the joint procurement of capabilities within the European Defence Fund based on sound financing mechanisms.
The objective is to deliver capabilities, ensure a competitive, innovative and balanced basis for Europe’s defence industry across the EU, including by cross border cooperation and participation of SMEs, and to contribute to greater European defence cooperation, by exploiting synergies and mobilising EU support in addition to Member States’ financing. To strengthen Europe’s security and defence in today’s challenging geopolitical environment and to help reach the level of ambition of the EU expressed in the EU Global Strategy, the European Council has agreed on the need to launch an inclusive and ambitious Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO).