Source: Council of the European Union
Democracy and the fundamental values of freedom are the very essence of the European Union. The battle against terrorism that we are fighting together is a battle to safeguard our fundamental values. We stand ready to work on strengthening security. We will continue to make progress together, with the heads of state or government, with ministers, with the European Commission, to increase security. And to drive back this terrorist threat. Even with the many measures launched and the many practical steps taken in recent years, there was a pressing need to examine what could still be done better.
That’s what the interior ministers will be discussing when they meet on Friday. They will have the opportunity to take stock of progress, to see where we are in terms of implementing the decisions already made – some of which date back a number of years. Their meeting will also be an opportunity to examine how we can speed up, flesh out and improve some processes. And then – and this is something I have committed to – the heads of state or government will take the time to return to this issue in December, so that we can be sure that we are providing the necessary political impetus and guidance for progress to be achieved.
There are a few important points I would like to highlight. Firstly, as others have said before me, the key to success lies in pushing back against attempts to justify terrorism, resolutely combating messages of hate and justifications of violence, particularly on the internet. Our work to achieve those goals began some time ago, and we hope to adopt formal decisions to ensure that terrorist content on internet platforms is removed very quickly.
Another point I feel is highly significant, because I know that it’s a real issue in many European countries, is this: how can we promote training for imams in Europe? What can we do to safeguard freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, which is extremely important in Europe? How can we safeguard these fundamental values, on which there can be no compromise, so that they are firmly guaranteed and protected?
Lastly, one other point that matters to us all is the need for international dialogue. It was noted that Europe guarantees freedom of conscience, guarantees that everyone is free to believe or not to believe, and that’s why Europe wants to engage in international dialogue to avoid falling into the trap set by those seeking to exploit and fuel hatred and division. That is the purpose of the intense diplomatic activity which we will continue to pursue with countries outside Europe, in order to explain what our values are, to explain our determination to combat terrorism, to protect freedoms and to protect democracy. Thank you.