Reader Michael Stanton-Geddes sent in word from Brussels that the European Commission is evolving its counterterrorism (CT) strategy. Commissioner Franco Frattini, who has the Justice, Freedom and Security portfolio for the EC, rolled out the new CT â€œpackageâ€ last week as we continue to review the Homeland Security strategy recently released on this side of the Pond. There are some similarities, but differences are apparent inÂ substance as well as style.
Like the U.S. strategy, this EU document begins with an assessment of the threat. Both acknowledge that terrorism poses an evolving risk to respective civilian populations and both consider the potential threat of chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons sought by terrorist groups. The threat assessments differ mostly at this point.
The U.S. is chiefly focused on al-Qaeda, whereas the EC doesnâ€™t mention this group. Ours goes on to cite Hizbollah, al-Qaeda in Iraq, and even the threat of â€œhomegrown terrorists.â€ The Europeans are surely aware of this last possibility, but they do not mention it in thier description of the threat. Of course, the potential audience on the Continent is far more heterogeneous than ours and the EC therefore faces a more daunting communications challenge in describing this difficult subject.
Europeâ€™s more discrete efforts under this strategy reveal more similarities:
â€¢ Stopping violent radicalization;
â€¢ Protecting our critical infrastructure;
â€¢ Improving the exchange of information between national authorities and cooperation between all stakeholders when appropriate;
â€¢ Reacting to non conventional threats;
â€¢ Improving the detection of threats;
â€¢ Depriving terrorists of financial resources;
â€¢ Supporting victims;
â€¢ Research and technological development
The U.S. Strategy organizes its goals as follows:
â€¢ Prevent and disrupt terrorist attacks
â€¢ Protect the American people, critical infrastructure, and key resources
â€¢ Respond to and recover from incidents
It is important to note the similarities across the Atlantic when considering big-picture approaches such as those weâ€™ll find in strategy documents. It is also important to note that the big picture is defined differently by the U.S. than by our allies overseas. While the EC document reaches beyond combating terrorists to more long term preventative measures (e.g. radicalization in general), the U.S. invests in management challenges (homeland securty management system) and cultural issues (preparedness, radicalization at home) to support its strategy.
Future posts will look into this ongoing update of Europeâ€™s counterterrorism strategies. For more on this topic in the meantime,Â CDI published a detailed paper last year on EU CT efforts.Â A CRS study released this summer provides a very helpful distillation of US-EU CT cooperation.Â Finally, these recent posts offer relevant links and information:
Other HLSWatch posts on international HLS issues.