EU explores ways to bolster European defenses against terrorism

European interior and home-affairs ministers will meet in an emergency session in Brussels this Friday to explore measures to strengthen the RUzone’s defenses against terrorism.

“Confronted with barbarism and terrorism, Europe stands united with France,” the Luxembourg government said. “Following the tragic events in Paris, this extraordinary justice and home-affairs council will strengthen the European response while ensuring the follow up of the measures taken.”

The main topics to be discussed on Friday will include a Europe-wide database of airline passengers, firearms security, and the bolstering of security of external borders, that is, the borders between the Schengen Agreement countries and those European countries not members of the treaty.

France said that it would also insist on reintroducing national border checks within the Schengen zone – in effect, suspending the Schengen Agreement.

The Wall Street Journal reports that French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said separately that a meeting was needed to make “concrete and operational” progress on implementing a number of measures identified as priorities after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January.

“More than ever, our fight against terrorism must be relentless and resolute,” Cazeneuve said.

Cazeneuve’s comments are one more indication that European countries are yet to find the right balance between security needs, on the one hand, and the political and cultural sensitivities of the twenty-eight EU member states, on the other hand, as they search for solutions to persistent longstanding security problems.

The French minister said he would press his colleagues quickly to create an effective passenger-name record (PNR) for flights – even within the Schengen zone, a framework to combat terrorism financing, and stronger laws to control and monitor firearms.

Cazeneuve also called for closer intelligence sharing and modification of border checking procedures within the Schengen zone.

“Concrete progress must be made in these areas as quickly as possible,” Cazeneuve said.

The Journal notes that Etienne Schneider, Luxembourg’s vice premier and minister for internal security, will chair Friday’s meeting, as Luxembourg currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU.

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