Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, today announced:
“We are currently facing a growing extremist threat which has mutated and evolved in the last few years, spreading across our continent. Terrorism is now being driven by a wide range of sources, including nationalist ideologies, Al Qaida, violent left-wing groups, anarchists, and not least right-wing ideologies. It is now time to focus Europe’s efforts on a truly pre-emptive response – because no country in the EU is spared from the spread of violent extremism.”
And she continued:
“Terrorist groups and extremists are also capitalising on advances in technology to find new ways of engaging with disaffected youth. They take advantage of social networking sites, online video channels and radical chat rooms. They are spreading their propaganda more widely and more effectively.
“Traditional law enforcement techniques are insufficient to deal with these evolving trends in radicalisation and violent extremism. A broader approach is required to prevent and counter this phenomenon.”
Using the threat of terrorism, something that we have lived with in Europe for centuries, but somehow managed to survive and maintain democracy, Malmström is making demands for a mass expansion of EU powers, and a substantial surrender of security matters from the national to the supra-national.
Furthermore, a ‘pre-emptive’ approach and non-‘traditional law enforcement techniques’ could easily include a suspension of Habeas Corpus and restrict freedoms of speech and association, liberties that are ingrained into the culture of the UK, and form the backbone of our judicial system. Moreover, a system based upon ‘pre-emption’ and non-traditional methods’ are wide open to abuse.
I am at heart a Libertarian and, as such, I have a tendency to distrust the State, but I am also a realist and accept that because not everyone follows the rules, there is a need for a security force. I also accept that there ought to be cross-border agency co-operation. However, I believe that these agencies and their activities must be proportionate, and compatible with democracy.
I do not agree that what Malmström (an unelected official) proposes is either. If adopted, these new powers would incorporate a substantial power shift from London to Brussels, but would it trigger a referendum as Cameron promised, and set out in the 2011 European Powers Act? I think not.