Boundaries and security in the European Union

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The European Union aims to build a security union that will make Europe safer by fighting terrorism and serious crime and strengthening the EU’s external borders.

The EU offers its citizens an area of ​​freedom, security and justice without internal borders. The overarching goal of a security union is to make this space a safer place. The EU and the Member States are working together in the fight against terrorism, violence and radicalization, as well as serious and organized crime and cybercrime.

What the EU is doing

The EU focuses its actions on supporting Member States through:

  • Exchange of information between national law enforcement agencies, customs authorities and border guards;
  • operational cooperation supported by the European agencies;
  • Training, exchange of good practice, funding, research and innovation.

The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation ( Europol ) brings Member States together in investigations into serious and organized crime. In parallel, the Commission is working on improving the „interoperability” (communication) of the EU information systems for security, border management and migration control.

The EU has updated and strengthened its legislation by harmonizing the definition of terrorist offenses and making travel with a terrorist background and terrorist financing and training a criminal offense. With the support of the Center of Excellence of the Awareness Network Against RadicalizationThe EU is stepping up its efforts to prevent radicalization and meet the challenge of returning terrorist fighters. Through the EU Internet Forum, the Commission is facilitating collaboration between major Internet companies, law enforcement agencies and civil society to reduce access to illegal Internet content and to counter terrorist propaganda with effective alternative messages. The Commission has also proposed that Internet companies should be obliged to remove terrorist content from the Internet within one hour of the issuance of an order by the national authorities.

In December 2018, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission reached agreement on the Cybersecurity Act, which strengthens the mandate of the EU Cybersecurity Agency (European Union Network and Information Security Agency  ENISA) to better serve the Member States can help defend against cybersecurity threats and attacks.

Thanks to the Schengen Agreement border controls between many EU member states have gradually been abolished. The migration crisis and the new security situation in recent years have shown that the Schengen area needs strong external borders. In 2017 the EU adopted new legislation on the Schengen external borders; Since then, the data of travelers, including European citizens, has been increasingly checked against relevant databases to ensure that they do not pose a threat to public order or internal security. In addition, more than 1,600 officers from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) are now helping national border guards patrol in Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Spain and other countries.