The European Parliament isn’t going to solve the problem of terrorism

20 August 2017

The European Parliament isn’t going to solve the problem of terrorism

Just before the summer recess the European Parliament took the decision to set up a special committee on the fight against terrorism in the European Union. Its mandate is broad, but my prediction is that the result of its deliberations will be to propose that the EU must be given more powers in this area, and perhaps once again that a new or strengthened EU institution must be added to the mix. Thirty of my fellow MEPs will study the issue for a whole year, yet to be effective, a struggle against terror must emphasise preventive work in the neighbourhoods and on the streets, enforcement by sufficient personnel and sound cooperation, all of which are national competences. This committee is therefore no more nor less than a waste of money.

The continuing wave of attacks in European countries is horrifying. All of the countries affected are looking for ways to prevent further attacks, but it’s as if they’re mopping the floor with the tap still running. In the case of the attack in Barcelona, this seems to have been the work of a preacher of hatred who had attracted these young boys to his message in a small town in northern Spain. That such a man can operate so freely in such a small community is in my view only explicable in terms of how different people associate with each other to an ever lesser extent. As a result of a combination of neoliberal individualism and technologies which make it easy to shut yourself away in your own virtual world, it’s evidently possible for a preacher of hatred to organise meetings away from the mosque where nobody else would know about them or even want to know.

If the European Parliament really wants to contribute to the fight against terrorism, then it should reflect on the way in which the EU’s neoliberal laws are creating societies in which only the market binds us together, and think about how real contacts between people might be fostered. This leads immediately to the need to strengthen contacts within neighbourhoods. As we always say in the SP, the neighbourhood is the basis. The special committee of the EP won’t arrive at such a conclusion. In addition to a few mentions of human rights, what they’ll mostly talk about is the processing of personal data and the need to strengthen EU institutions. The end product of a year of meetings will be a long resolution that everyone can lay aside and forget. This is tragic.

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