Proposed EU Terrorism Directive Compromises Fundamental Rights

The directive is full of broad offenses and threatens people's freedoms of movement and expression, says a group of experts in European law.
The Meijers Committee, a group of legal experts, believes that the European Commission's proposal for a directive on combating terrorism compromises fundamental rights.

The European Commission's proposed directive on combating terrorism, issued on December 2, 2015, is insufficiently substantiated, extends the scope of criminal law too far, and compromises fundamental rights, says the Meijers Committee, an independent group of experts that researches and advises on European criminal, migration, refugee, privacy, non-discrimination and constitutional law.

Broad offenses

The proposal creates a far-reaching extension of the scope of member states' criminal law obligations in the field of terrorism, especially with regard to the preparatory phase, covering a wide range of conduct that can include everyday activities such as traveling.

The committee has pointed out several specific concerns about broadly drafted offenses such as public provocation to commit terrorism, giving and receiving training for terrorism, and traveling abroad for terrorist purposes, where fundamental rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of movement and non-discrimination are at stake.

According to the Meijers Committee, the proposal does not adhere to the European institutions' principles on criminalization and is not coordinated with other EU initiatives on deradicalization, disengagement and rehabilitation.

'Terrorism'

It is also doubtful whether the proposal adheres to the proportionality principle (article 5 of the Treaty on European Union). The proposed directive does not substantiate existing "gaps" and "loopholes" and fails to clarify why the proposed measures are necessary.

Furthermore, the Meijers Committee recommends reconsidering the broad definition of terrorism. When combined with a broader array of preparatory offenses, this definition can become problematic. The directive should also limit the opportunities to cumulate offenses.

Finally, the European Commission has not carried out an impact assessment of the proposed directive, even though there is a clear need for an in-depth assessment of the impact on fundamental rights and a careful investigation of the functioning of existing instruments in the field of counter-terrorism.

The Meijers Committee consists of independent experts who systematically assess European legislative proposals in the areas of criminal law, migration law, privacy, and discrimination on their conformity with the requirements of a democratic constitutional state. It promotes transparent and democratic decision-making, respect for human rights and access to a judge in the European cooperation in the field of justice, migration and security. The Committee is supported by a number of Dutch civil society organizations, including NJCM.

The Meijers Committee’s comments can be found here.