Following the recent attacks in Paris and Brussels, the European Union has set out a number of urgent measures, such as the improvement of the Schengen Information System to manage borders. The recent adoption of the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive is also an important measure as part of the response to returning foreign terrorist fighters.
The EU has considerably stepped up its counter-terrorism engagement with countries affected by Daesh in North Africa, the Middle East, Turkey and the Western Balkans. For example, a counter-terrorism package for Tunisia was adopted, focusing on advice and expertise, training, border security, legal reforms, aviation security and counter-radicalisation measures. Similar packages for Jordan and Lebanon are foreseen in the future.
To counter Daesh’s ideological influence, the EU has established an ‘Outreach and Communication with the Arabic-speaking World’ Strategic communications Task Force and is funding a €3.3 million project to strengthen local resilience to extremist recruitment in Tunisia, Lebanon and Morocco. A Joint Communication on an EU Strategy for International Cultural Relations was adopted last June, as well as an initiative to listen to and engage with young European and MENA leaders to create a positive dialogue.
The EU has been active in regional and international diplomatic outreach and has given its full support to the peace talks led by UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura in Geneva. On Iraq, the EU has been encouraging through political dialogue Iraq’s neighbours to support the government’s reform and reconciliation efforts.