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Security concerns continue across Europe

As reported by Vida Económica, the European Commission has criticised the EU member states’ slowness in adopting and implementing counter-terrorism measures. Brussels has also announced a set of measures to cut terrorist revenue sources and detect its financial activities, since nothing has been done on this matter yet. Measures concerning the development and use of mechanisms to detect firearms and explosives have also been presented, as well as a revision on the commercialisation of firearms.

In an analysis in Jornal de Negócios, Fernando Sobral writes that EC President Jean-Claude Juncker’s criticism of the 28 member states’ passivity and EU High Representative Vice-President for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini’s tears are the two faces of a powerless Europe, which not only has to choose between liberty and reinforced security, but also between action and inaction. Choices have to be made, echoes an editorial in Trends. Europe, Jornal de Negócios adds, appears lost in its contradictions.

In Brussels and other European capitals, radical Islam found a vast crop of lost souls in abandoned neighbourhoods, Fernando Sobral claims. In L’Humanité Dimanche, François-Bernard Huyghe further says that the response needs to include “choices in terms of foreign policy and combatting the causes of the radicalisation of part of the youth.” The recent attacks on Brussels and Paris, L’Humanité Dimanche adds, shed light on a lack of coordination between French and Belgian intelligence services as well as difficulties in selecting and processing relevant information. 

The Times reports that police at the Brussels airport hit by two suicide bombers last week have indeed complained in an open letter that their warnings of a possible attack were ignored. Over 25% of the 391 officers working there have signed a letter saying that they had been expecting an attack, and the head of a police union has accused baggage handlers from “a certain category of the population” of “cheering” terrorism. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told CNN from Washington, where he is for the Nuclear Security Summit, that he believes many European countries have failed to address the significance of the terror threat, Cypriot and Hungarian media report.

Mr Erdoğan said the authorities in Belgium showed negligence in their handling of would-be Brussels suicide bomber Ibrahim El Bakraoui, and stressed that the FBI had informed Dutch authorities about El Bakraoui. The creation of a European FBI or CIA, Daan Killemaes claims in a Trends editorial, actually faces an ever-lasting EU issue, every EU member state wanting to protect their sovereignty.

In Die Tageszeitung, Eric Bonse writes that the German reaction to the controversy in Belgium surrounding the mistakes made in terrorism investigations has mostly been unhelpful. Instead of providing assistance, Germany seems content to ridicule the Belgian authorities, even though Berlin does not provide Europol with any information itself. While Germany is busy criticising Belgium for its handling of the affair, questions surrounding known terrorists, such as Salah Abdeslam and Ibrahim El Bakraoui, remain unanswered. According to his lawyer, captured Paris terror attacks ring leader Salah Abdeslam wants to cooperate with the French authorities before facing trial, sources such as Aujourd’hui en France, De Tijd and The Daily Express report.

Abdeslam is in a high security prison in Belgium as he awaits extradition to the French capital. He has already started offering information to the Belgian authorities about the 13 November attacks on Paris in which 130 people died. Cedric Moisse, one of his lawyers, has confirmed he is likely to say more about how IS operates in Europe once he gets to Paris.

Meanwhile, concerns over security in Europe’s nuclear facilities has soared since the Brussels attacks, with mounting fears that Belgium’s two nuclear plants might be targeted and the country’s counter-terrorism efforts might not be up to the scratch to prevent an attack, El Mundo reports. UK Prime Minister David Cameron, in Washington DC for a nuclear security summit hosted by US President Barack Obama, said that new specialist anti-terrorist response teams will be created in Birmingham, Manchester, and other large cities to step up the country’s ability to withstand attacks similar to those in Paris and Brussels, The Guardian reports.


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