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A Counter-Terrorism Agenda for the EU and a stronger mandate for Europol: Questions and Answers

Why is the Commission proposing a new Counter-Terrorism Agenda?

Terrorism remains a real and present threat. As announced in the EU Security Union Strategy for 2020 to 2025, a new Counter-Terrorism Agenda is needed to effectively counter extremist ideologies, prevent radicalisation and better protect the public spaces terrorists target, while promoting full implementation of existing rules and tools.

The Agenda draws lessons from the evolving terrorism threat to step up cooperation at EU level, reinforce the available tools and where necessary fill policy and operational gaps, with the aim to better anticipate, prevent, protect and respond to terrorism.

What has the EU done to counter terrorism so far?

The EU has adopted laws and developed tools to combat terrorism in many important ways:  

  • Taking terrorist content off the web

In 2018, the Commission had proposed legislation ensuring that terrorist content is taken off the web within an hour and that online service providers play a more active role in detecting such content. This proposal is currently being discussed by the European Parliament and Council, and a swift agreement is needed. 

Pending agreement on these new EU rules, the Commission has been working with the Member States, Europol and industry on a voluntary basis. Together with Europol, the companies developed a "database of hashes", allowing content identified as harmful to be tagged electronically, preventing it from reappearing. The database contains over 300,000 unique hashes of known terrorist videos and images.

The EU Internet Referral Unit at Europol also scans the web for online terrorist material. Since its creation in July 2015, it has referred over 100,000 pieces of content to Internet companies, over 25,000 in 2019.

In addition, in October 2019, the Commission, Member States and online service providers have committed to an EU Crisis Protocol – a rapid response mechanism to contain the viral spread of terrorist and violent extremist content online.

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