Council of the European Union
Brussels, 17 January 2015
From: EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator
EU CTC input for the preparation of the informal meeting of Justice and
Home Affairs Ministers in Riga on 29 January 2015
This is a first paper for discussion in COSI on 20 January 2015. It does not yet include the
Commission’s proposals which will be discussed in the College on 21 January, nor the
contributions from the Member States. The document which will be submitted to the informal
meeting of JHA ministers in Riga on 29/30 January will be shorter, include the outcome of the
COSI discussions as well as contributions from the Member States and the Commission.
Europe is facing an unprecedented, diverse and serious terrorist threat. The horrific attacks that took
place in Paris between 7 and 9 January 2015 were followed by an unprecedented show of unity by
millions of citizens in France and across Europe as well as a show of solidarity and political will by
many EU and world leaders. In addition to action from the national governments, citizens are
looking to the European Union to provide an ambitious response. Core European values have been
attacked, in particular freedom of speech. The EU has to respond with meaningful action. Failure to
do so could result in disillusionment of citizens with the EU.
At the EU level, work is already well on track and a lot is in the pipeline. However, as was the
consensus in COREPER on 15 January 2015, now we need to mobilize the political will to amplify
and accelerate implementation of measures which have already been decided by the Council since
June 2013 and make better use of existing EU mechanisms, including the EU's revised Strategy for
Combating Radicalisation and Recruitment to Terrorism and its guidelines.
We need to focus on sustainable and long term policies that increase the overall resilience of our
societies in dealing with radicalisation and terrorism. In order to build this resilience, we need to not
only target the response to terrorism but also have a strong focus on long term prevention of
radicalisation. Past and current events have shown us the importance of including a strong
cooperation and exchange with civil society in these policies.
The declaration adopted by the Ministers of Interior present in Paris on 11 January 20151
excellent basis for the EU's further work and should be endorsed and implemented by the EU.
On this basis and following, the discussion in COREPER on 15 January 2015 as well as further
consultations with Member States, the current note sets out priorities which should be taken forward
urgently. They should be examined at the informal meeting of JHA ministers in Riga on 29 January,
with a few to submitting a meaningful package of measures to the meeting of Heads of States and
Government on 12 February.
Coherence between the internal and external work is crucial. Given the parallel work of the FAC
where suggestions for action will also be developed, this note does not include suggestions for the
external side. This external aspects of JHA will be included in the note prepared for the informal
JHA ministerial meeting in Riga on 29 January (after the FAC).
1. Prevention of radicalization
The EU and its Member States have developed several initiatives related to countering
radicalisation and terrorism on the internet, ranging from developing and promoting counter
narratives to engaging in high-level dialogue with the industry and several Member States, led by
the Netherlands, have started to develop informal joint policies on social media and the legal
framework related to internet and counter-terrorism. It is important to draw on these initiatives and
identify what actions can be stepped-up to increase the EUs effectiveness.
The Commission should deepen the engagement with the internet companies. The Forum with
representatives from the EU institutions, Member States and industry counterparts to discuss
terrorism in full compliance with human rights should be set up quickly. The Forum could also
explore joint training and workshops for representatives of the law enforcement authorities, internet
industry and civil society. A dialogue with the internet companies is necessary at both EU and at
international level. In this context, further cooperation with the US could be explored.
Working with the main players in the internet industry is the best way to limit the circulation of
terrorist material online. We should build on the existing relationships between the major platforms,
Member States and the EU institutions in order to develop a stronger joint response.
We should build on the positive industry response, of which the UK Counter-Terrorism Internet
Referral Unit (CTIRU) work2
is an excellent example, and also on the successful models in some
other Member States. There are options to take this forward at a national level and/or to work
together with other states and industry partners to further limit the use of the internet by terrorist
- Member States should consider establishing similar units to the UK CTIRU and replicate
relationships with the main social media companies to refer terrorist and extremist content which
breaches the platforms’ own terms and conditions (and not necessarily national legislation).
- Member States should also consider what role the EU can play. For those Member States
which do not yet have a national capability, EU involvement in referring terrorist and extremist
content to social media platforms for removal could make a difference. Consideration should be
given to a role for Europol in either flagging or facilitating the flagging of content which
breaches the platforms’ own terms and conditions. These often go further than national
legislation and can therefore help to reduce the amount of radicalising material available online.’ In
this context, Europol's Check the Web project could be beefed up to allow for monitoring and
analysis of social media communication on the internet.
CTIRU continues to work with social media platforms to flag terrorist and extremist content to them which
breaches their own terms and conditions. Since February 2010, social media platforms and other parts of the
internet industry have voluntarily removed 72,000 pieces of terrorist content following referrals from CTIRU
because they have agreed that the content represents a breach of their rules. The main players have started to
improve their response and held a training event for the smaller platforms on this issue in December. The UK is
committed to sharing its experience across the EU.
The Commission should examine the legal and technical possibilities to remove illegal content
and make proposals for a common approach, in full compliance with fundamental rights.
In the law enforcement and judicial context, cross-border information about owners of IP addresses
can take very long to obtain, given the need to use MLAE tools. The Commission should be invited
to consider ways to speed up the process. In the meantime, existing best practices in the Member
States to deal with this issue could be collected and shared. Eurojust could facilitate this process, as
discussed at the Eurojust Strategic Meeting on Cybercrime held on 19-20 November 2014 in The
As proposed in the EU Strategy for Combating Radicalisation and Recruitment to Terrorism,
internet safety education in schools should be improved to ensure that the dangers of online
activity and potential to radicalisation and recruitment are highlighted and addressed appropriately
and consistently. In this context, Sweden could be invited to share its experience with training to
strengthen the critical thinking skills of young people with regard to the internet.
b) Strategic Communications
Member States and EU institutions are encouraged to develop strategic communications and
counter-narrative policies, making maximum use of the already existing Syria Strategic
Communications Advisory Team (SSCAT). Member States should develop positive, targeted and
easily accessible messages.
The Commission, in cooperation with Belgium, could convene urgently a meeting of the SSCAT
network and Member States to brainstorm proposals for national/pan-European/cross-border
communications efforts in the coming weeks, building on the unprecedented public response to the
Paris attacks and the mobilization of civil society. Proposals should be refined in time for the
informal JHA Ministerial meeting. The Commission might consider emergency funding in support
to this end.
With regard to counter-narratives, training to civil society organisations to exploit their online
potential is important. The RAN Center of Excellence in cooperation with industry could explore
to provide this.
Drawing on the experience of the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), the EU should develop
and implement a communication and outreach strategy with regard to fundamental rights and
values. It is therefore important to also step-up our efforts to counter all kinds of extremism,
including the anti-Islamism and right-wing extremism, and continue to promote tolerance and
solidarity throughout the EU. We can build on the positive message that was echoed by the
majority of EU citizens in response to the Paris attacks.
It is important to engage in dialogue with Muslim communities in Europe. The Commission could
be tasked to draw on the expertise of the RAN Centre of Excellence and the BEPA to facilitate this.
The Commission, drawing on the experience of the FRA, could be tasked to develop dialogue with
Muslim communities on freedom of speech and expression and assist the Member States to do
so. The FRA could be invited to present suggestions for integration and non-discrimination of
c) Underlying factors of radicalization
The Commission should be invited to mobilize all relevant departments and resources to develop a
comprehensive package to assist Member States to address the underlying factors of
radicalization and support initiatives across the EU with regard to education, vocational training,
job opportunities, integration.
d) Dis-engagement, rehabilitation, de-radicalization
As discussed at the December 2014 JHA Council, de-radicalization, disengagement and
rehabilitation programmes, including in prison and as alternative to prison in the judicial context,
should be developed. The Commission should be asked to examine how best such judicial
rehabilitation and disengagement programmes could be set up and facilitate the sharing of best
practices and consider support to such projects, including financial, drawing on the experience of
the RAN Centre of excellence and Eurojust.
The Commission should speed up the establishment, amplify and project also to third countries the
RAN Centre of Excellence. The RAN Centre of Excellence should be in a position as soon as
possible to provide expert advice to Member States to set up programmes. Member States are
encouraged to develop at national level similar multidisciplinary networks which allow to exchange
good practices and coordinate efforts.
2. Border controls
Schengen is part of the solution, not the problem. The free movement inside the Schengen area is
one of the major achievements and values of the EU. To maintain Schengen and at the same time a
high level of security, controls at the Schengen external borders have to be strengthened.
Work engaged under the auspices of the Commission to step up the detection and screening of
travel movements by European nationals crossing the Schengen external borders should be swiftly
finalized. To that end, Member States will more extensively detect and monitor certain passengers
based on objective, concrete criteria which respect smooth border crossings, fundamental liberties
and security requirements. Common risk indicators and criteria will systematically be implemented
across the Schengen area.
In addition, the Commission could be invited to present a proposal in a timely fashion to amend the
rules of the Schengen Borders Code to allow for broader consultation of the Schengen
Information System during the crossing of external borders by individuals enjoying the right to free
movement. At the same time, technical solutions should be developed so that there is no impact on
passenger waiting times at passport controls.
The recommendations of the SIS/Sirene Working Party of December 2014 (doc 14523/3/14 Rev 3)
should be implemented as a matter of priority and urgency.
The Commission could support, as appropriate, Member States' initiatives to establish appropriate
technological and procedural requirements to reinforce systematic controls of the validity of travel
documents against the relevant databases such as Interpol's SLTD as well as the document section
of the SIS. Member States should establish such solutions as a matter of priority.
Common criteria to enter foreign fighters information into the SIS II should be developed.
3. Information sharing
Member States should implement all measures that may be helpful with respect to the sharing of
information on the different forms of the threat, notably foreign terrorist fighters, on knowledge of
their movements, and the support they receive, wherever they are, with a view to improving the
effectiveness of the fight against these phenomena. To that end, Member States should use fully the
resources of Europol, Eurojust and Interpol, as well as consider other measures.
The UK should be admitted to the SIS II as soon as the legal, technical and procedural requirements
There is a crucial and urgent need to move toward a European Passenger Name Record (PNR)
framework, including intra-EU PNR. The Council is prepared to move forward, adopting a
constructive approach with the European Parliament without however jeopardizing the effectiveness
of the system. Member States and EU institutions are committed to engage MEPs as a matter of
The amount of information transmitted to Europol doesn't match the threat. Political will is needed
to increase the use of Europol - the biggest shortcoming has been the lack of information provided
by national CT authorities3
Member States should contribute to the maximum extent to the Europol Focal Point Travellers. The
situation that so far four Member States contribute 80 % of the data is not yet sufficient. and
participate in the working groups related to foreign fighters set up by Europol, which might need to
intensify their work.
Adopting some measures similar to those employed in the EU Policy Cycle against Serious and
Organised Crime, such as assigning driver roles to lead Member States, multilateral strategic and
operational planning and dedicated Commission funding, could add impact to EU CT work.
The creation of a European Counter-terrorism Centre at Europol, like the European Cybercrime
Centre (EC3), would allow Europol to translate existing capabilities into operational impact
quickly. The EU Counter-terrorism Centre could focus on five main pillars of work:
(1) Focus on Foreign Fighters, with complementary levels of intelligence sharing (SIS II, EIS, Focal
Point Travellers) and synergies with EU PNR;
While the overall number of cases supported by Europol increased by 52 % from 2011 to
2014, the increase in CT cases was only 2 %.
In addition to better use of Focal Point Travellers, multinational ad-hoc working group Dumas and
the Network of CT contact points, Europol could establish a resident CT task force drawn from the
appropriate national agencies and hosted by Europol. This would follow the successful model of JCAT
in the cybercrime sphere. The CT task force would identify suitable networks to be reviewed
jointly, starting with less sensitive cases in order to build confidence. It would act as a fusion centre
for law enforcement and intelligence service data and would allow CT practitioners to interact with
their CT peers without the many interfaces which usually separate them from Europol at national
As the repository for more detailed intelligence in prioritised operations, Focal Point Travellers
should be seen as part of a three-tier intelligence sharing strategy, along with the Europol
Information System (EIS) and the Schengen Information System (SIS II). The EIS should be
used by investigators to share basic information about all suspected foreign fighters. It already has
the capability to store data on terrorists, but less than 2 % of current records are terrorism related.
Only minimal details need to be shared as a basis for follow-up inquiries, handling codes and
"hidden hits" can be used to restrict access (same model already successfully used in organized
In order to extract maximum value of an EU PNR, the national Passenger Information Units (PIUs)
should use SIENA for their cross-border communications, and should systematically cross-check
their PNR data against Europol's databases. Europol should work with PIUs to establish common
European methods for trend and travel pattern analysis, suspect identification etc. A central PIU
located at Europol could be established to work alongside those at the national level.
(2) Unique financial intelligence capabilities (EU-US TFTP, FIU.net integration);
Investigative leads of EU-US Terrorist Financing Tracking Programme are cross-checked with
Europol's main CT database. Over 60 leads have already been provided following the Paris attacks.
As well as bringing the European FIU and CT communities into closer proximity, the FIU.net
(European network of Financial Intelligence Units) integration into Europol will also give Europol
the opportunity to use ma3tch techniques currently used by FIU.net for counter-terrorism
purposes. This would allow the identification of ‘need-to-know’ information in real time without
information being transmitted to Europol. This could be a key factor in convincing reluctant CT
units to make use of Europol channels. DS 1035/15 GdK/lwp 9
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(3) Support services to tackle firearms, explosives and CBRN threats
(4) Cyber capabilities to identify online terrorist activity and help to prevent acts of cyber-terrorism
Europol and MS should commit multidisciplinary resources to identifying, disrupting and
prosecuting terrorist activity online.
(5) Improved strategic intelligence (improving the TESAT, providing advice to Member States on
national terrorist threat levels and strengthening ties with INTCEN).
There is a threat posed to the security of our citizens from those who travel within the EU, and into
the EU, with criminal records indicating a violent or terrorism-related past. We have in place a
system, ECRIS, to ensure that each Member States holds a central record of its own nationals’
criminal history (wherever offences were committed within the EU) which can be shared with other
Member States when those individuals come to the attention of their law enforcement authorities.
However, the scope of ECRIS is limited. The problem is that the existing system for exchange of
criminal records at EU level (ECRIS) is reactive, case-by-case, in practice limited to EU citizens (it
does not work well with regard to third country nationals as it is not clear which Member State
should be requested for these criminal records) and limited primarily for specific criminal
investigations. We should explore how we can provide for a more systematic and proactive
exchange of such data within the EU, in particular on terrorist related convictions. This
would help to strengthen our ability to protect the public including against the insider threat. This
may involve strengthening the ECRIS framework, a greater role for Europol or other approaches.
The Commission could be invited to present proposals. There is already work underway to be able
to capture and share data on non-EU nationals who are convicted in the EU, which should now be
d) Data retention
The Commission could be invited to present as soon as possible a new legislative proposal for data
e) API data
The existing API directive should be implemented fully and used to the maximum extent. The
Commission could be invited to make suggestions in this regard. DS 1035/15 GdK/lwp 10
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Since the Snowden revelations, internet and telecommunications companies have started to use
often de-centralized encryption which increasingly makes lawful interception by the relevant
national authorities technically difficult or even impossible. The Commission should be invited to
explore rules obliging internet and telecommunications companies operating in the EU to provide
under certain conditions as set out in the relevant national laws and in full compliance with
fundamental rights access of the relevant national authorities to communications (i.e. share
g) European Terrorist Financing Tracking System (TFTS)
It should be explored whether to relaunch the discussion started under the previous Commission on
the feasibility of a European TFTS.
4. Judicial response
There is a need to step up international judicial cooperation in terrorism cases, in particular cases of
a) Judicial information sharing
Member States should be encouraged to make optimal use of the possibilities for exchange of
information on prosecutions and convictions with Eurojust, as set out in Council Decision
2005/671/JHA of 20 September 2005 on the exchange of information and cooperation concerning
Member States should be also encouraged to increase the exchange of information with Eurojust, in
accordance with Article 13 of the Eurojust Decision, in cases of trafficking in firearms and
The use of the Eurojust national coordination system should be enhanced to facilitate the carrying
out of the tasks of Eurojust. The well-functioning network of national correspondents for Eurojust
for terrorism matters should continue to be fully used to foster the exchange of judicial information
and best practices in terrorism cases.
b) Strategic aspects
Coordination at EU level in addressing the legal challenges in the gathering and admissibility of
e-evidence in terrorism cases would be beneficial. Such challenges were discussed at the Eurojust
Strategic Meeting on Cybercrime in November 2014, where the need for a cybercrime judicial
network supported by Eurojust was strongly advocated. The possibility of creating a platform of
cyberterrorism prosecutors inside this cybercrime judicial network could also be explored. Eurojust
could be invited to further facilitate systematic exchanges of experience by national judicial
authorities and collection of good practices with regard to the gathering and admissibility of
evidence, in particular internet related, as well as investigation and adjudication of foreign fighters
Eurojust should continue to analyse relevant case law on terrorism in its Terrorism Convictions
Monitor (TCM) to further consolidate a common understanding of terrorist phenomena and identify
reoccurring legal challenges and best practice.
Where appropriate, Member States should be encouraged to use Eurojust’s assistance in terrorism
cases involving third States and share relevant experience and best practice during tactical and
c) Operational aspects
Member States should make maximum use of Eurojust tools, in particular its coordination
meetings and coordination centres. Member States should explore the setting up of Joint
Investigation Teams in terrorism cases with the assistance of Eurojust, including legal advice,
as well as financial support. Member States should be encouraged to refer to Eurojust European
Arrest Warrants concerning terrorist offences to ensure their proper and timely execution. In the
future, Member States should also make use of Eurojust’s assistance in the execution of European
d) Rehabilitation programs in the judicial context should be developed as a priority.
e) Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2178
The Commission could be asked to present a legislative proposal to update the Council Framework
Decision on Combating Terrorism to collectively implement UNSCR 2178.
The Commission could also be asked to establish an overview of implementation of UNSCR 2178
by EU Member States, which is relevant also in the context of the US Visa Waiver Programme.
The EU has a comprehensive set of measures in place and fighting illicit firearms trafficking is one
of the EU's crime priorities for the 2014-2017 period, as decided by the Council. However, only 13
Member States are participating in the Operational Action Plan firearms adopted by COSI.
Therefore, increased participation by Member States and acceleration of the implementation of the
various measures should be a priority notably to improve information sharing among Member
States and with Europol and to increase the number of join firearms operations across Europe.
These operations should also target firearms trafficking on the internet and the Darknet.
Europol could be invited to present state of play on the use by Member States of Europol's firearms
database at the informal meeting of JHA ministers, in particular contribution of information, and its
activities in this context, to better identify and dismantle trafficking networks.
The Commission could be invited to make proposals to improve information exchange mechanisms
and the collection and destruction of prohibited weapons.
The rules across Europe for the de-militarization of firearms are not harmonized, which means
that in some Member States it is easier to re-activate de-militarized weapons. The Commission
could be invited to examine possibilities for harmonization.
The traceability of firearms only lasts 20 years. It should be explored to make this indefinite.
The Commission could also be invited to make suggestions to better address the trade of firearms
More information on terrorist acquisition of firearms needs to be shared with Europol. Synergies
between CT and organized crime work must be sought.
6. Information sharing about measures at national level
a) National measures
Member States are invited to share unclassified measures they have adopted or are planning to
adopt at the national level by sending contributions in writing to the General Secretariat of the
Council so that an inventory can be established and shared with all Member States. The COSI
meeting on 20 January is aimed at determining the measures to be taken by the EU and not at
analyzing measures taken or contemplated by Member States at national level.
b) Threat level
In 2010, the Council had agreed a system of notification of change of alert levels through INTCEN,
which has never really functioned. Overall, as suggested by Spain, a discussion is desirable.
As suggested by the Spanish Minister of the Interior4
, it could be explored to harmonize the
designation of terrorist threat levels across Member States and to design a common mechanism
covering the EU with different levels of alert. In addition, the remit and purpose of TE-SAT could
be boosted to make it a viable threat assessment rather than a trend report. An even more ambitious
way forward would come with a closer alignment of the functions of Europol and INTCEN, to
make a genuine EU CT threat assessment centre with a dedicated task to inform threat levels in MS.
c) EU Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR)
In order to support communication efforts in relation to the current events, it is important for the EU
Member States and institutions to have an overview of messages released. In addition, sharing
information on communication monitoring (i.e. public/media/social media reaction to those
messages) may help crisis communication preparedness efforts. The EU Integrated Political Crisis
Response (IPCR) web platform is readily available and includes features built for that purpose,
such as the opening of a dedicated page for "monitoring on-going complex situations". Such a page
acts as an information-exchange forum and a repository where all communication-related data may
be easily found. Such an initiative may also rely on the recently established IPCR communication
This informal network is constituted of crisis communication officials from the Member States and
institutions who act as points of contact and reference for crisis communication issues. A dedicated
section of the IPCR Web Platform has been also set-up to allow crisis communication specialists to
interact for preparedness purposes.
7. Internal/external link: Projecting JHA tools externally
Concrete proposals will be developed after the meeting of the FAC on 19 January 2015.
Member States should use Interpol to a maximum extent (diffusion system) to share information
with third countries. In order to maximise the use of these databases, experts should study and
deliver methods to harmonise the national practices for inserting national information on foreign
fighters in such a way that they are better exploitable by relevant third countries but also limited in
their distribution to the concerned partners.