Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 June 2011
Terrorism has become one of the main buzz words of our times. This has not left the European Union (EU)'s policies unaffected. Indeed, it is fair to say that counter-terrorism is one of the fastest developing policy regimes within the EU. This might be particularly surprising given that it is somewhat controversial whether the EU should play a role in the fight against terrorism at all. Certainly the particularities of the European legal order create additional obstacles to adopting a coherent counter-terrorist policy regime.
In the last decade both the quality and the quantity of activities aimed to contain terrorism have increased tremendously within the EU. Today, the EU has developed its own counter-terrorist policies that include measures under the former Community pillar. In particular, the European Council's ‘Action Plan’ to fight terrorism on 21 September 2001 marks the opening of a new chapter in the EU's counter-terrorist activities. Part of this development is that the fight against terrorism has become one of the central objectives in the creation of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ). This both reflects and shapes the EU's choice of taking a criminal law approach to fighting terrorism. The Council described the objectives of the AFSJ as: (1) extending free movement of persons, protecting fundamental rights, and promoting EU citizenship while facilitating the integration of third country nationals (freedom); (2) fighting against all forms of organised crime (security); (3) guaranteeing European citizens equal access to justice and facilitating cooperation between Member States' judicial authorities (justice).