On the 9 December 2020 the European Commission has published the Communication on A Counter-Terrorism Agenda for the EU: Anticipate, Prevent, Protect, Respond .The communication is part of wider EU action in the area of security, which comprises the new Security Union strategy, presented by the Commission in July 2020.
One of the four pillars of the Counter-Terrorism Agenda for the EU: Anticipate, Prevent, Protect, Respond is ''Promoting security by design and reducing vulnerabilities to protect cities and people''
Under the pillar Protect, the commission will propose to gather cities around an EU Pledge on Urban Security and Resilience and to make funding available to support them in reducing the vulnerabilities of public spaces. Cities which take part in the Pledge will become part of an EU-wide initiative of Cities against Radicalisation and Terrorism, through which the commission will facilitate the sharing of good practices and support projects led by cities and peer-to-peer advisory efforts. The Commission will mobilise all available funding instruments to support the implementation of the Pledge.
The Counter-Terrorism Agenda reaffirms the key role of cities in protection of the public spaces and preventing radicalisation by proposing a EU Pledge on Urban Security and Resilience. The Pledge will set out basic principles and objectives for local authorities in these areas, and will call upon interested cities to sign up to a positive agenda to prevent and counter radicalisation and reduce vulnerabilities in public spaces.
Furthermore, the pillar Prevent, the commission is planning under the initiative “EU Cities against Radicalisation” to foster the strategic dialogues among cities by organising yearly the mayors conference against radicalisation.
In the follow-up report provided by the European Commission (EC) on 15.02.2022, the EC welcomed the support provided by the CoR in its opinion Counter-Terrorism Agenda for the EU: Anticipate, Prevent, Protect, Respond and expressed its commitment to closely involve it as appropriate, in accordance with the CoR's competence, in the EU Pledge on Urban Security and Resilience and the related initiatives.
Regarding the EU Centre of Expertise for Victims of terrorism, the EC is currently reflecting on how to continue funding some of the activities of the EU Centre beyond 2021. Furthermore, the EC has proposed strengthening Europol's mandate and welcomes again the positive opinion, which the CoR has issued in that regard.
The EC will also propose a police cooperation package to improve cross-border cooperation between Member States, and strengthen the link between regional and national police cooperation in that context.
The EC also took note of the CoR's appreciation for the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL's) activities. Moreover, it expressed support for a stronger deployment of EU cohesion policy funds to prevent radicalisation. The use of these funds is Member-State driven, being under the so-called shared management, therefore the EC can focus on raising awareness among Member States on these opportunities. Finally, the EC has welcomed the support of the Committee and has already started engaging in dedicated exchanges with Member States to gradually identify with them the possible scope and nature of such an endeavour.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
welcomes the Commission's counter-terrorism agenda, which recognises the key role of local and regional authorities, including in the prevention of radicalisation and in the protection of public spaces;
underlines CoR commitment to continue to play an active role in combating radicalisation, supporting Commission's initiative ''EU Cities Against Radicalisation'' and the Radicalisation Awareness Network;
calls on the Commission to include the Committee of the Regions as a full partner in the EU Pledge on Urban Security and Resilience and for it to always be consulted on relevant proposals;
stresses the need for cross-border and cross-sectoral cooperation in combating terrorism, calls for close cooperation between regional and national law enforcement authorities and Europol, highlights the added value of the relevant CEPOL training;
stresses the added value of the pilot EU Centre of Expertise for Victims of Terrorism, and calls for it to be continued and expanded beyond 2021 in order to carry out further practical work on the ground;
emphasises that a balance must always be sought between the right to security and physical integrity and other fundamental rights and freedoms;
points out that local and regional authorities are the most directly confronted with the opportunities and challenges of integration and expects, particularly at that level, support from the Commission to safeguard and strengthen social cohesion, including through its Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion;
stresses that EU cohesion policy funds can also be used to prevent radicalisation and upgrade public infrastructure through investments aimed at social cohesion, integration and resilience;
welcomes the Commission's commitment to support the further development of national networks of relevant actors, looks forward to the proposal on setting up an EU Knowledge Hub on prevention of radicalisation which, in addition to disseminating knowledge and expertise, should also promote the optimal use of funding opportunities under the various EU programmes;
stresses the importance of the Internal Security Fund (ISF) in Europe's fight against terrorism and highlights the need to ensure that the share of funds managed by the Member States reaches all competent national and regional authorities in this field.