Europe’s Fight Against Terrorism

Three years ago this month, international terrorism struck Europe. In simultaneous bomb attacks on trains in Madrid, Islamist terrorists killed 191 people and wounded over 2,000. Last month the suspects went on trial in a Spanish court.

Violent extremists claiming to act in the name of Islam have hit many countries around the world, before and after the attacks on America of September 11, 2001. But the attacks in Madrid – and in London in July 2005 – showed that Europe is one of their prime targets, prompting European governments to respond by bolstering their defenses, including at the level of the European Union.

In the past three years, security standards at European ports and airports have been strengthened, biometric passports have been introduced, and terrorist financing targeted. More than 2,000 terrorism suspects and those suspected of other major forms of crime have been arrested and extradited on the basis of a European Arrest Warrant.

Similarly, European security and intelligence services have pooled resources in a common center for threat analysis in Brussels. Through Europol and Eurojust, European police forces and judicial authorities have intensified cooperation, and ministers are preparing to grant law enforcement agencies of other EU countries access to national databases of DNA and fingerprints. For the first time, security-related research figures prominently in the EU budget, with €1.4 billion earmarked for this purpose. European police and security agencies have prevented many terrorist attacks.