EU Presidency presents draft Council Decision to target protestors as "terrorists"

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The Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union has presented the EU Working Party on Terrorism with a draft Council Decision (under Article 34 of the Treaty on European Union) which would introduce the exchange of information on suspected protestors to protect EU Summits and other international meetings. What appeared to be a "maverick" idea from the Spanish Presidency has become a serious proposition.

The draft Decision openly admits that the Council Framework Decision on defining terrorism includes:

"violence and criminal damage orchestrated by radical extremist groups, clearly terrorising society, to which the Union has reacted by including such acts in Article 1 of the Framework Decision on combating terrorism"

The formal text of the draft Decision says in Article 1 that information should be exchanged on:

"incidents caused by violent radical groups with terrorist links.. and where appropriate, prosecuting violent urban youthful radicalism increasingly used by terrorist organisations to achieve their criminal aims, at summits and other events arranged by various Community and international organisations"

Article 2 says information would be exchanged on "individuals with a police record in connection with terrorism" (which appears to refer to a record of a criminal conviction which may be for minor public order offences). But it then goes on to say this requirement is not necessary where domestic law allows the exchange of "intelligence" (suspicions and suppositions).

Article 3 says that information "shall not be exchanged on people exercising their constitutional rights and freedoms to assemble" but will "apply to members of actual organisations run by terrorist organisations for the purpose of achieving their own destabilisation and propaganda aims".

The background report says that the information exchanged "could also include other data, supplied by Europol"

It also refers to using the "BDL" network for the exchange of data - this is a secure communications network used by the internal security agencies of EU states.

Under Article 34 of the TEU the European Parliament has to be "consulted" on Council Decisions, but its views are often ignored.

Full-text: Initiative by the Kingdom of Spain for the adoption of a Council Decision introducing a standard form for exchanging information on incidents caused by violent radical groups with terrorist links: 5712/1/02 (pdf)

Tony Bunyan Statewatch editor comments:

"To link protest groups to terrorism under the EU Framework Decision defining terrorism confirms the worst fears of civil society that, despite assurances to the contrary, this was always the intention of a majority of EU governments.

When the Spanish Presidency proposal was discussed in the EU Working Party on Terrorism on 4 February it faced opposition from a number of governments but now the Presidency has simply carried on and produced draft legislation.

Protest groups are not terrorist organisations. There is no evidence whatsoever that groups protesting, for example, against the effects of globalisation, have any links with real terrorist groups. This proposal has to be thrown in the dustbin"


Statewatch News online coverage: 15 February 2002

The Spanish Presidency of the EU proposed, in a report dated 29 January, that law enforcement and intelligence agencies should exchange information on "terrorist incidents" to combat the increase during:

"various European Union summits and other events, in violence and criminal damage orchestrated by radical extremist groups, clearly terrorising society"

However, at the meeting of the EU's Working Party on Terrorism on 4 February:

"Various delegations insisted that public order incidents are not always terrorist related. A clear distinction should be made. Inc

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