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Counter-Terrorism Law and Practice: An International Handbook

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Unformatted text preview: OLDRICH BURES Senior Lecturer Department of International Relations and European Studies Metropolitan University Prague Prokopova 16/100, Prague 3, 130 00 Czech Republic Tel.: +420-221 411 121 Fax: +420-221 411 120 E-mail: o.bures@mup.cz obures@alumni.nd.edu Lack of a Shared Perception of the Terrorist Threat among EU Member States Paper prepared for delivery at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Toronto, Canada, September 3-6, 2009. Acknowledgements : I gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Czech Science Foundation under the post-doc research grant no. 407/08/P016. Abstract: This paper offers provide an analysis of one of the key shortcomings of the European Union’s (EU) counterterrorism efforts – the lack of a shared perception of the contemporary terrorist threat among EU Member States (MSs). Specifically, it advances the following five explanations. Firstly, history matters and when it comes to terrorism, different EU MSs have very different historical records. Secondly, while there is a general consensus in the expert community that Europe is nowadays not only a terrorist’s base and a potential target, but also a terrorist incubator, the exact nature and novelty of the terrorist threat, both external and “home-grown,” are still debated. Thirdly, demography matters and given the current immigration and natality patterns in EU’s MSs, it is bound to matter even more in the years to come. Fourthly, Eurobarometer public opinion polls reveal that the public perceptions of the terrorist threat vary across the EU and it is possible to identify a few specific explanations why this has been the case. Fifthly, the EU lacks a genuine baseline terrorist threat assessment which makes the development of a common terrorist threat perception rather difficult, if not impossible. Finally, it is important to note that while most European politicians and a majority of EU MSs’ citizens perceive terrorist threats differently, they at least tend to agree on a negative definition of (counter-)terrorism. Key words: European Union, counterterrorism, terrorism, home-grown terrorism, threat perception, threat assessment demography, public opinion. Introduction European Union’s (EU) efforts in the fight against terrorism have already been analyzed in a number of scholarly articles and edited volumes. 1 While differing substantially in their scope, depth and focus, most of these analyses have identified important gaps and shortcomings of the nascent EU Counterterrorism policy, which truly came into being only after the September 11, 2001 (9/11) terrorist attacks on the United States (US). Some of the available literature also offers important insights and suggestions for closing of the existing gaps but virtually nobody has yet addressed the arguably key shortcoming of the current EU counterterrorism policy – the lack of a shared perception of the contemporary terrorist threat among EU Member States....
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