Before we start to discuss the counter-terrorism strategies of European Union, we have to first answer the question: “What is terrorism?” or “How exactly can be terrorism defined?” When answering this question we will encounter two “problems”. Firstly, it is not straightforward to define this worldwide-known term because of its complexity of relating criminal, unlawful activities and there is no universal definition of terrorism. And secondly, there are as many definitions as many scholarly publications, governmental or non-governmental institutions. For instance, the FBI defined the terrorism in the Code of Federal Regulations as follows “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85).
At the international level was terrorism adjudged as:
Criminal acts, including against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidate a population or compel a government or aninternational organization to do or to abstain from doing any act, which constitute offences within the scope of and as defined in the international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism, are under no circumstances justifiable by considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other similar nature (UN Security council Resolution 1566, 2004, art. 2).
And at European level are terrorist offences precisely defined as: offences under national law, which, given their nature or context, may seriously damage a country or an international organisation where committed with the aim of seriously intimidating a population, or unduly compelling a Government or international organisation to perform or abstain from performing any act, or seriously destabilising or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an international organisation (Council Framework Decision on combating terrorism, 2002, art. 1 clause 1) Now that we have a better idea of what the world imagines when the word ‘terrorism’ is said, we can focus our interest on the main queries of our report: “What are the European Union counter-terrorism strategies and how effective are they?” However, when trying to find an answer to these questions, we come across numerous other questions.
Some of them would, for example, be: “What strategies are being implemented by the European Union?”, “What are the goals of these strategies?”, “Are those goals being achieved?”, “What are all the negative impacts of terrorism?”. Obviously, people die or get severely injured but we also have to consider the impact on everyday life, as changes are made in airport and other policies, general fear of people is raised, etc.
While conducting this research we used various methods and numerous different sources of information. We focused on the European Union in our query and in our report. However, this problem cannot be isolated only for the Union and its member states because it is a global problem. Therefore, the publications we used also considered the events of September 11, 2001 and others.
Desk research: We used this technique to immerse into this phenomenon and to collect necessary data, background information, opinions and the framework decisions undertaken by the European Union and other international governmental and non-governmental agencies. The informational basis of our report lies mainly in acknowledged book publications from experts and stakeholders of this field. The university library provided us not only with quality book publications, but also with resources such as are online books (from the Digital Library) and also online articles and newspapers from LexisNexis.
Interview: To get deeper knowledge of this subject and also to consult our findings from our desk research, we used the qualitative method of interviewing. In this part of the research, we encountered some difficulties. First, we contacted Eurojust – The European Union’s Judicial Cooperation Unit who reinforces the fight of the EU against trans-border serious crimes. However, their response to our request was very quick, unfortunately negative, informing us that they do not provide such information.
Our second choice was Mr. Gilles de Kerchove who is the former Counter-terrorism Coordinator of the European Council and thus, a real expert in this field. Unfortunately, we were informed he was too busy to arrange a meeting with us. Thirdly, we contacted Mr. Voorhoeve who is the former Minister of Defense and currently lecturing at our alma mater. Unfortunately, he did not even reply to our e-mails. Finally, we contacted a current European Parliament member, namely MUDr. Miroslav Mikolasik, who is actively involved in the political sphere almost for 20 years and provided us with all additional knowledge necessary for successful completion of the research report.
Terrorism is not a new term in the global, nor in the European levels. It has a relatively long history “To study the history of terrorism is to study the history of human civilization” (Griset-Mahan, 2003, p.1). It does not recognize time, space and boundaries which is shown through the fact that its causes touched every continent. (conclusion- therefore we think that it’s a global thing – touches every country, every person…) An important milestone in the modern history of terrorism is the date of September 11, 2001.
This day triggered a series of political responses all over the world and naturally in the European Union as well. According to Spence (2007), “the term ‘counter-terrorism’ was absent from the EU discourse” (p. 2). Another author Nilsson (2006, p. 74) claims that the European Commission was already preparing the proposal of the European Arrest Warrant and a Framework Decision on Terrorism when the events of 09/11 took place. Referring to Europe, we have to bear in mind the terrorist attacks in Madrid (in March, 2004) and London (in July, 2005). These led to speeding up the police and judicial cooperation of the member states in the Third Pillar.
According to Grant (2002, p.135), after one year from this tragic day, the US-led counter-terrorism campaign had only little effect on the EU in terms of business. However, they were not inactive and they signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.