European Counter Terrorism Centre Launched
The new center allows European Union Member States to share information about threats and to improve their strategies for handling them.
With Europe facing the most significant terrorist threat in more than a decade, following the November 2015 Paris attacks, the European Commission on Jan. 25 launched Europol's European Counter Terrorism Centre. The new center allows European Union Member States to share information about threats and to improve their strategies for handling them.
"EU institutions responded swiftly and strongly to the terrorist attacks of last year and moved to augment the European Union's capacity to deal with the terrorist threat. As foreseen in the European Agenda on Security put forward by the European Commission, the establishment of the European Counter Terrorism Centre is a major strategic opportunity for the EU to make our collective efforts to fight terrorism more effective. I call on EU Member States to trust and support the European Counter Terrorism Centre to help it succeed in its important mission," said Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship.
The center "will improve the exchange of information between law enforcement agencies. This is the kind of cooperation Europe needs in the fight against organized crime and terrorism," said Ard van der Steur, minister of Security and Justice of the Netherlands, which currently holding the presidency of the Council of the EU.
After the Paris attacks, Europol, the EU's law enforcement agency that is based in The Hague, assigned up to 60 officers to support the French and Belgian investigations in Taskforce Fraternité. Significant information has been received from those two countries, resulting in 800 intelligence leads and more than 1,600 leads on suspicious financial transactions, according to the law enforcement agency. "Our ambition is for the European Counter Terrorism Centre to become a central information hub in the fight against terrorism in the EU, providing analysis for ongoing investigations and contributing to a coordinated reaction in the event of major terrorist attacks. Europol is grateful for the support of the Member States, the European Parliament, and the European Commission in the establishment of the ECTC. It will lie at the heart of a stronger EU standing up to the threat of terrorism," said Europol Director Rob Wainwright.
The center's head is Manuel Navarrete Paniagua, a high-ranking officer of the Spanish Guardia Civil with extensive practical counter terrorism experience. He was already the head of the counterterrorism unit at Europol. Currently, 39 staff members and five seconded national experts work in the center.