US, EU can defeat terrorism without damaging civil liberties

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The EU and the U.S. must continue to work together in the fight against terrorism, but we must be clear that this must not come at the cost of fundamental rights.

Much has been achieved through EU-U.S. cooperation on counterterrorism in terms of information sharing to address the issue of foreign terrorist fighters, preventing radicalisation, particularly on the internet, and in terms of anti-money laundering to tackle terrorist financing. It is crucial that this work is not undermined by measures that prioritise counterterrorism “by all means” at the expense of civil liberties.

EU lawmakers will meet with members of the U.S. government, Congress and civil society from July 17-21 to ensure continued cooperation on these issues in the face of ongoing threats. It is crucial that the EU and the U.S. continue to work together to prevent terrorist attacks, while maintaining full respect of the rule of law and the fundamental rights of all our citizens.  

{mosads}The EU has concluded a number of important counterterror agreements with the U.S. in recent years, such as the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP), the use and transfer of passenger name records (PNR) and the Umbrella Agreement providing rules for transatlantic data exchange in law enforcement investigations.


These binding agreements demonstrate our shared commitment to the fight against terrorism, and it is important that they are not undermined. However, the issue of surveillance and privacy may return to the agenda if the Trump administration prioritizes the fight against terrorism “by all means” to the detriment of fundamental rights, such as those preventing torture and protecting personal data. 

We will raise our concerns in particular on the so-called Muslim Ban, which has now been upheld by the Supreme Court with exceptions for those with close relatives in the U.S. The fact that people from six Muslim-majority countries now face tougher restrictions on entering the U.S. is deeply troubling. We must speak out against any measures that target those who are often already marginalised and discriminated against — especially Muslims and migrants.

This policy does nothing to aid in the fight against terrorism. On the contrary, it is likely to reduce intelligence cooperation between the U.S. and the countries affected by the ban, which are likely to be more hesitant to work with U.S. forces and intelligence agencies.

We will also speak out against any measures that are taken to implement President Trump’s statements supporting the reintroduction of brutal interrogation practices, such as waterboarding, and the reopening of so-called “black sites.” Not only are these shameful techniques morally wrong, they have been shown to be ineffective and do nothing to aid in the fight against terror. 

There are clear benefits in EU and U.S. cooperation in the fight against terrorism. This must continue, and EU lawmakers are strongly committed to ensuring that our intelligence communities have the right tools available to investigate and prevent attacks while ensuring that fundamental rights are upheld. We will work with Congress to achieve this balance and ensure a level of counterterror cooperation that protects all our citizens. 

Claude Moraes is chair of the European Parliament Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee and a member of the European Parliament for London.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill. 

Tags Counter-terrorism International law National security Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication Terrorism Terrorist Finance Tracking Program War on Terror Waterboarding

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