MEPs from across the bloc have reflected on the “ruthless” terrorist attack on Brussels as the fifth anniversary of the attacks are marked across the country.
The anniversary of the 2016 attacks has been honoured by both MEPs and the parliament’s political groups, who have called for action to prevent future terrorist attacks from occurring and threatening the European way of life.
— Saskia Bricmont 🇪🇺 (@saskiabricmont) March 22, 2021
Belgian MEP Saskia Bricmont called for the rights of victims to be strengthened, in order to ensure “the resilience of our societies in the face of extremism”.
“We need now, more than ever, a restorative justice oriented towards the needs of the victims.”
Bricmont explained that the time of emergency in 2016 had long passed – now, the time “to help victims had arrived”.
And it wasn’t just her, with politicians from every side of the aisle stepping in to denounce violence in face of democracy.
Five years have passed since the horrible terrorist attacks in Brussels. My thoughts are with the victims, their relatives and friends. We stand together against hatred, we will #NeverForget, and we will never let terrorism win! #22mars #22maart
— Ska Keller (@SkaKeller) March 22, 2021
What happened in 2016?
On 22nd March 2016, three blasts rocked Brussels – two explosions going off at the main terminal of Zaventem international airport and one at Maelbeek metro station.
The latter was close to several European Union institutions, including the offices of the European Commission and Council of the European Union.
32 people were killed in the blast alongside the three suicide bombers and a staggering 340 people were also left wounded.
Today we remember those we lost in the #BrusselsAttacks 5 years ago.
As we remember the victims of the attack, we stand united to defend our democratic values of tolerance, solidarity and justice. pic.twitter.com/XmDyt3yuZT
— PES 🌹🇪🇺 (@PES_PSE) March 22, 2021
Virtually all of the Parliament’s political groups or their members highlighted the importance of solidarity and unity to ensure the survival of European values, even in the wake of adversity.
The Party of European Socialists (which forms part of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats), declared that the group stands “united to defend our democratic values of tolerance, solidarity and justice”.
5️⃣ years ago today, ruthless terrorists attacked Brussels & turned the city’s beautiful morning upside down.
— EPP Group (@EPPGroup) March 22, 2021
Meanwhile, the European People’s Party (EPP), the largest group in the Parliament currently, called for three things that were vital to ensuring that Europe remained safe in the face of ever-evolving terror threats.
These three points included:
1. Make it mandatory for online platforms to delete flagged terrorist propaganda from their sites within one hour or less.
2. The ‘e-evidence package’: accelerate electronic evidence production in criminal matters from another Member State.
3. Launch the EU Travel Information and Authorisation System and upgrade the Visa Information System: stop non-EU citizens planning to commit a terrorist attack from entering the Union.
Ich erinnere mich sehr gut an den Tag vor fünf Jahren.
Wir saßen morgens in einem Austausch zur Entsenderichtlinie, als wir die Explosion hörten.
Der Terror war einschneidend.
Aber die Solidarität und die Kraft dieser Stadt waren stärker.
— Terry Reintke (@TerryReintke) March 22, 2021
Ever since the terror threats that marred Europe especially between 2014 and 2018, there has been a large and ongoing debate about how best to counteract these horrific events from repeating.
In the past, there have been calls to end the Schengen area system over the belief that this has largely been a contributing factor to terrorists moving between EU member states unimpeded to carry out attacks.
Yet, many nations depend on the Schengen area for work and other essential travel services. As such, when it comes to Schengen itself – especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic – many are wondering what the future could hold for this central EU structure.
The three proposals brought up by the EPP offer solutions to what has largely been seen as weak points exposed by terrorists in the past to carry out their attacks.
Not only could this potentially be a factor that links into a Schengen reform across the EU, but it could also help ensure that the borders of the EU are far more secure from external threats.
As the EU looks past the pandemic, a slew of topics are being discussed in the context of how Europe’s future will be. These have included a greener European Union through recovering from COVID-19, an LGBTI+ Freedom Zone and reforms on travel across the bloc – among so much more.
This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
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