West European Terrorism

The most elaborate design of a common identity policy, and by that of a common security is by far the 1993 Treaty of European Union. The Maastricht Treaty provided the regulatory framework for a better development of the European unity. The third pillar, that of Justice and Home Affairs, makes for the first time the issue of common security a matter of intergovernmental cooperation. The aim is to give member states necessary means to deal with major threats to their internal security on a Union-wide basis.

The result is a legitimate counter-terrorism action with all the member states engaged in upholding the structure of the liberal democracies. The Treaty provides a defined authority infrastructure which is now institutionalized- different from TREVI and PWGOT consultative and limited structure. The K4 Committee gathers immigration, customs, narcotics and anti-terrorist specialists under the authority of a single forum making the coordonation better. In this way Europe has a common security policy. That what once was national authority concern, becomes today the 'bussines' of all signiture states.

The terrorism is recognise as an European problem and that is why specific institutions must be developed. The responsibility is devided among the Council of Interior, Justice Ministers and the K4 Committee. Article K3 enables the Council to promote the coordonation and adopt joint measures in areas of common interest (stipulated by the K1 article):asylum policy, regulations for the crossing of EU external borders, immigration policy, judicial cooperation in criminal and civil matters, police cooperation in combating terrorism,and organized crime in general ,etc.

They will act according with the K4 Committee recomandations. The Committee task is to give 'opinions for the attention of the Council,either on Council's request or on its own initiative' and contribuing 'to the preparetion of the Council's discussions reffered to in article K1'- Treaty of European Union (March 1992), 328. This treaty-based bodies have the power to initiate and implement really anti-terrorist policies different from the prerequisite attemptions made by TREVI or PWGOT. The Europol will have to improve its cooperation with extra-European Agencies in primarly dealing with counter-terrorism.

(art. K1[9] ). In the near future Europol will increase its operational activity by the inclusion within of the TREVI Secured Fax Network , the mechanism used by WG1 to transmit secured terrorist data. "The evolution of EC/EU anti-terrorist cooperation rests on the need to provide a joint, rationalized response to the collective threat of terrorism… The Maastricht third pillar represents the most recent stage in this continually evolving process" (Chalk, 1996: 167). The biggest problem of such a complex policy is the extent to which it is publicly supported.

The accountability aspect is the major problem that has to be taken into consideration by the European notables. Such procedures are important to ensure that officials are subject to coercion methods in order to avoid arbitrary decision-making. At present , there are no guarantees to ensure parlamentary or judicial supervision once a decision becomes a law. Another problem is that of encreasing power of unelected officials. Without procedures which allow European citizens to participate to the taking decision process an European identity will never be real.

Finally the K4 Committee is not under any democratic control, even if it has executive legilative and judicial power. All this problems have to be solved in the near future in order not to danger the strengh of such an important common policy. Once the framework is settled the process will have to continue with the creation of an international rapid reaction force which will use its expertise to combat terrorism, an Investigation Agency with authority on extradition process and some media regulations which will minimalize the ' advertising' impact of terrorist actions.

These are just several trends which could be taken by the further evolution of the European Union Common Security Policy. The European terrorist case seems to be more particular within the framework of the worldwide terrorist theory. The convergent aspects deal with the emergence of the new 'global society', which implies: the compression of space , the mediatic campaignes and the emergence of collective identity crisis. The differences seems, at least for me, to be more important. This is the rationale of this paper. The European terrorism case seems to have a specific history, which must take into account the history of European evolution.

'My theory' consideres that terrorism is a more regional process in Europe than elsewhere in the world, even if its effects could become largelly international. An explanation could be the fact that Europe has a greater cultural homogenity. Only in some areas defined as compact but religious divergent, such events are predictible to occur. However this relative assumptions are less important than the fact that nowadays terrorism has a much wider range of distruction that it has in the past. For this reason preventing terrorism is the most important.

(At least in theory). In practice it is known that terrorism is defined by its unpredictible nature. The wider Globalisation is the larger are the chances of a terrorist act to unpredictible occur. That is why the means to fight against terrorism have to change themselves. And they have changed. This problem is no longer the object of national concern only, but it become the subject of common security policies. Back to the European particularism case: even if the process is more 'regional' than in general ,the means to combat it are as much extensive as possible.

So, within Europe, terrorism is not neccessarly 'global' in its own nature but rather in the means to prevent it.


Peter Chalk, West European Terrorism and Counter -Terrorism (London: Macmillian Press LTD,1996) Walter Laqueur, The Age of Terrorism (Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1987),p. 11 John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (Oxford: Oxford University Press LTD, 1991),p. 65 John Richard Tackrah, Encyclopedia of terrorism and Political Violence (London and New York:Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1987).