Today, on the 12th European Day for the Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism we are honouring and remembering all victims of Terrorism. We also heard today that the Justice Council adopted a general approach on a proposed EU Directive on Combating Terrorism.
Because the EU and it’s decision making processes can seem very complex and tends to use a particular vocabulary, we’ve put this very quick guide together for you. With this short and simple guide we want to help you understand what the EU Directive on Combating Terrorism is, aims to do, how it gets developed, negotiated and adopted.
- What is the EU Directive on Combating Terrorism?
This Directive actually replaces an existing piece of EU law called a Framework Decision. That law was made under the old system before the Lisbon Treaty (a bit like a Constitution for the EU which says what the EU can do).
You can find the Framework Decision here. And the new proposed Directive here.
The Directive is mostly focused on fighting terrorism. For example it helps make sure that all countries in the EU have laws in place that criminalise terrorist activities and have similar approaches in how they do this.
However, the Directive also includes two article on supporting victims of terrorism. More on that later.
- How will the EU adopt the Directive?
EU laws are proposed by the European Commission. However, it is the European Council, made up of Governments of every Member State of the European Union and the European Parliament made up of elected representatives of every Member State, which actually agree on the final shape of the Directive.
Whilst there are rules about procedures, in reality for this kind of Directive, governments negotiate amongst themselves and change the Directive until it is something that the majority (at least a qualified majority) can accept.
When they finally agree together on how they would like the Directive to be they adopt a General Approach. This is the Council’s position.
However, the European Parliament has to have its position as well. To do this, it appoints a Rapporteur (in this case Monika Holmeier) who drafts a first report suggesting amendments to the Directive. Members of the European Parliament (MEPS), then have some time to propose additional amendments.
For this Directive, they must propose amendments by 7 April 2016. Anyone can lobby MEPs to propose amendments – so your voice can make a difference.
After 7 April, the Parliament Report will be updated and will be voted on. This becomes the basic European Parliament position.
Finally, the European Parliament and the Council (led by the Presidency – which is currently held by the Dutch) will negotiate together (in trilogues) supported by the European Commission.
By the end of that process, the Directive will have been further amended until both institutions can agree. At this point the Directive will be adopted as EU law.
- So then this is national law?
Not exactly. EU Directives must be implemented into national law. This means each country normally has around 2-3 years to put in place national laws which conform with the Directive. If they don’t they can be taken to court by individuals in their home countries or can by the European Commission.
Please learn how the EU Directive on Combatting Terrorism can help improve rights and support for victims of Terrorism, how you can help and what Victim Support Europe does following this link.