As Spain lays to rest its latest victim of the armed separatist group ETA, the European Parliament has voted to adopt tougher EU-wide penal measures aimed at fighting terrorism. It is a consultative move, since security is a matter for EU member states’ governments to decide.
What is more, within the assembly some members feel their countries are more or less concerned. Spanish conservative Luis de Grandes Pascual said: “It is already a positive step that the EU is looking at penalising three types of crime to fight modern terrorist bloodletting. We’re not just sitting idle. One cannot be laid back about terrorism. I feel here that some highly respectable parliament members see terrorism at a distance… as if it doesn’t affect them. But the truth is that terrorism is global.”
While MEPs said the fight against terrorism must not constrain freedom of expression, for the first time in European law they proposed identifying as crimes: public incitement to commit terrorist acts, recruitment for terrorism, and terrorist training.
French Socialist member Roselyone Lefrançois drafted the text. She says: “About punishing ‘provocation’ when it’s about the written word, I think anyone expressing themselves could be pursued. That could be mis-used. That’s why we preferred the term ‘incitement.’”
German Liberal MEP Alexander Alvaro felt equally strongly that care must be taken not to undermine civil liberties: “I believe that the element in terms of provocation or public incitement is more the repressive factor. The other two issues included like fighting public recruitment or terrorist training I think that is right, but concerning the public provocation I think we’re crossing a line.”
The parliament said it sought to prevent radicalisation and the emergence of potential terrorists while still protecting fundamental rights.