EU president urges 'coherent' security policy after Paris attacks

13th January 2015, Comments 0 comments

EU president Donald Tusk said Tuesday the bloc, reeling from the Islamist attacks in Paris, needs a "coherent" policy to ensure security while protecting essential democratic freedoms.

The attacks which left 17 people dead in and around Paris last week have stoked calls for a sharp tightening up of security in the European Union, notably through increased intelligence cooperation and travel checks.

Such calls however have raised concerns about the protection of personal data and basic freedoms in a continent, parts of which have in the past experienced totalitarian Nazi and Communist rule.

Tusk told the European Parliament that "yet again we are facing the everlasting dilemma between security and freedom ... yet again we must find a wise balance between these two fundamental needs."

"If we are unable to build a coherent security policy ... sooner or later we will put at risk the freedoms we have built up," he warned.

The former Polish premier said he backed a single EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) system, a controversial regime opposed by many in the European Parliament on the grounds it breaches privacy rules in the 28-member bloc.

The proposed system would centralise travel data to allow faster exchange of information about suspects, especially of foreign fighters returning to Europe radicalised and well-trained from the war-zones of the Middle East.

The three French citizens responsible for the Paris attacks are believed to have had links with various jihadist groups in Yemen and Syria.

"If we do not get a single European PNR, we may end up with 28 national ones. National networks would be a patchwork with holes," Tusk told MEPs.

"They would interfere with the privacy of citizens but not properly protect their security. One European system is clearly better for security and freedom," he added.

Some 3,000 European citizens are believed to have joined the jihadist cause in Syria and Iraq with around 30 percent returning home, according to EU figures given late last year.

© 2015 AFP

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