The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States and the subsequent revelation of Al Qaeda cells in Europe gave new momentum to European Union (EU) initiatives to combat terrorism and improve police, judicial, and intelligence cooperation among its member states. Other deadly incidents in Europe, such as the Madrid and London bombings in 2004 and 2005 respectively, injected further urgency into strengthening EU counterterrorism capabilities and reducing barriers among national law enforcement authorities so ...
The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States and the subsequent revelation of Al Qaeda cells in Europe gave new momentum to European Union (EU) initiatives to combat terrorism and improve police, judicial, and intelligence cooperation among its member states. Other deadly incidents in Europe, such as the Madrid and London bombings in 2004 and 2005 respectively, injected further urgency into strengthening EU counterterrorism capabilities and reducing barriers among national law enforcement authorities so that information could be meaningfully shared and suspects apprehended expeditiously. Among other steps, the EU has established a common definition of terrorism and a common list of terrorist groups, an EU arrest warrant, enhanced tools to stem terrorist financing, and new measures to strengthen external EU border controls and improve transport security. Over the years, the EU has also encouraged member states to devote resources to countering radicalization and terrorist recruitment, issues that have been receiving renewed attention in light of growing European concerns about the possible threats posed by European fighters returning from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Promoting law enforcement and intelligence cooperation with the United States has been another top EU priority since 2001. Washington has largely welcomed enhanced counterterrorism cooperation with the EU, which has led to a new dynamic in U.S.-EU relations by fostering dialogue on law enforcement and homeland security issues previously reserved for bilateral discussions. Contacts between U.S. and EU officials on police, judicial, and border control policy matters have increased substantially and a number of new U.S.-EU agreements have also been reached; these include information-sharing arrangements between the United States and EU police and judicial bodies, two U.S.-EU treaties on extradition and mutual legal assistance, and accords on container security and airline passenger data. In addition, the United States and the EU have been working together to curb terrorist financing and to strengthen transport security. Nevertheless, some challenges persist in fostering closer U.S.-EU cooperation in these fields. Among the most prominent and long-standing are data privacy and data protection issues. The negotiation of several U.S.-EU information-sharing agreements, from those related to tracking terrorist financial data to sharing airline passenger information, has been complicated by EU concerns about whether the United States could guarantee a sufficient level of protection for European citizens' personal data. EU worries about U.S. data protection safeguards and practices have been further heightened by the unauthorized disclosures since June 2013 of U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs and subsequent allegations of U.S. collection activities in Europe (including reports that U.S. intelligence agencies have monitored EU diplomatic offices and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone). Other issues that have led to periodic tensions include detainee policies, differences in the U.S. and EU terrorist designation lists, and balancing measures to improve border controls and border security with the need to facilitate legitimate transatlantic travel and commerce.
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