Sur le blog de EU Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy : The Paris Terrorist Attacks: Failure of the EU’s Area of Freedom, Security and Justice?
In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday 13th November, the French President declared a state of emergency and announced the introduction of a number of measures to “mobilise all possible forces in order to neutralise the terrorists and to guarantee the security of all the areas which could be concerned”. These measures included the reintroduction of controls by France at its internal borders with other Schengen States in the interest of preventing both the entry into the territory of dangerous individuals seeking to carry out terrorist attacks, and to thwart the escape of the attackers.
Nonetheless, Salah Abdeslam, a suspect believed to be one of the masterminds of the attacks, managed to escape by crossing the border between France and Belgium during the night from Friday to Saturday without being apprehended and has still not been arrested since, despite significant effort on the part of the Belgian and French police forces. More surprising, although relatively ignored by the media is that he was checked by French police in the border region (around the city of Cambrai) but not apprehended. How can this have happened in the heart of the EU where border guards, police, judges and intelligence services use modern technology to trace such people?
Before putting the area of freedom, security and justice on trial – as some politicians have done – it is certainly important to objectively examine the manner in which the workings of this beast have been confronted by the reality of terrorism. Whether it has to do with controls carried out at borders (Section 1 of this article), or cooperation between national police forces (Section 2), it must be noted that the primary responsibility in this case does not rest with the mechanisms created by the European Union. In contrast, the failure to prevent the rather predictable attacks now creates the question of sharing intelligence between the competent national intelligence agencies, a matter which does not fall within the Union’s competences (Section 3).
1. The pending questions about border policy
Knowing what we know today about the Paris attacks and the background of the perpetrators, a distinction needs to be made between the matter of terrorists crossing internal and external borders of the Schengen Area.
The crossing of internal borders: The Schengen Borders Code (SBC) regulates the crossing of the borders of the concerned EU Member States. As outlined in an article by Evelien Brouwer on this blog, Schengen States can, on the basis of Article 23 of the SBC, temporarily reintroduce controls at their internal borders if there is clear justification on the grounds of a threat to public policy or internal security. The existence of such a threat is obviously not in question here.
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