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Munich Security Conference, 18 February 2017
We meet here today to discuss terrorism, in what is arguably the most volatile international security environment since World War II.
The terrorist threat is imminent. We mourned 133 innocent people last year. 151 in 2015.
In Germany, France, Belgium and elsewhere: hundreds wounded and many more indirectly affected.
Many attacks prevented by security services. From the threat perspective, Europe has unfortunately become a single space.
Terrorists know no borders. Our common response to the threat has improved following recent attacks.
But it is still too fragmented. We still do not have a single European security space.
We are still not sharing enough when it comes to information and intelligence.
This sharing is the first thing that needs to happen, to face a threat which is so multi-faceted and constantly evolving.
Starting from the management of our external borders, which can produce critical information to tackle terrorist threats.
An efficient external border management, is the only way to make our Schengen area of free movement, without internal border controls, sustainable and secure.
The terrorist attacks came at the same time as the refugee crisis. And though we will never equate people fleeing violence and terror at home with terrorists, we saw in some recent cases such as Berlin, that there are linkages with security.
We are now also dealing with lone wolves that do not travel to Syria any more, but become radicalised once they are here.
Our external border management is the nexus of our policy on security and migration.
That is why we will soon have systematic checks on all travellers, including EU citizens, crossing our border.
That is why we proposed an Entry-Exit system for all third country nationals, and a European Travel Information and Authorisation System for visa-free travellers.
That is also why we are investing all our energy on interconnecting all our information systems on security, borders and migration: to connect all the dots at European level, and fight the threats as they materialise across the Union.
Our American friends around the table will immediately relate to this. It was the same paradigm shift they put in place after 9/11 to overcome the fragmentation of their security framework.
Of course our situation in Europe is different. Intelligence is a national prerogative. We will not change this. We don’t need new structures. No European CIA – at least not yet.
Europol is the perfect one-stop shop for connecting all these dots.
One year ago, we established the European Counter Terrorism Centre at Europol.
Already, it has shown its added value for national investigators after the Paris and Brussels attacks.
But most importantly, it has already become an information hub for our counterterrorism work: information exchange increased by 75% in one year, and the number of counterterrorism operations supported rose by 45%.
We are doing better. But there is still huge room for improvement. More can and should be done.
Intelligence services have to talk to law enforcement at European level.
We can help bridge this gap. And we are pushing in that direction.
Europol and the Group of national intelligence services in Europe are now exploring how to improve their cooperation.
To conclude: Little by little, learning from hard lessons, we are taking big steps on security in Europe.
A few years ago, a European PNR system was unthinkable. Now it is being rapidly implemented.
And we are taking action to move towards a common European defence.
But as regards the problem of terrorism: the ultimate objective should be a genuine and effective Security Union in Europe.