With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for victims of terrorism.
Every year Europe commemorates victims of terrorism on 11 March. This European Remembrance Day was established after the 2004 Madrid bombings, which left 191 people dead and around 2 000 injured. But Europe does not limit its action to commemoration. European legislation aimed specifically at combating terrorism dates back to 2002, and introduced a common understanding of terrorist offences and minimal penalties for perpetrators across Europe. It recognised the vulnerability of terrorism victims and the assistance they and their families need.
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With the recent wave of attacks, which affected nine EU countries between 2015 and 2018, the European Union reinforced its arsenal to protect citizens and help victims. A law adopted in 2017 not only tightens the rules and sanctions related to terrorist activities, but also provides for better support for victims. Complementing earlier legislation on the rights of victims of crime, this law addresses victims’ needs, such as medical and psychological care or legal advice, and puts emergency mechanisms in place to assist them in the aftermath of an attack. Moreover, victims from another European country should receive the same assistance and compensation as residents of the country where the attack occurred, even when they return home. To ensure more efficient cooperation between countries, a Coordination Centre for Victims of Terrorism will open in 2019. An EU country faced with a terrorist attack can also ask for help under the EU solidarity clause and benefit from the crisis response arrangements involving political coordination.
- European Commission webpage on assistance to victims of terrorism and their families, https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/crisis-and-terrorism/victims_en
- European Parliament, study ‘How can the EU and the Member States better help victims of terrorism?’, 2017, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2017/596805/IPOL_STU(2017)596805_EN.pdf
- Fight against terrorism – definitions of terrorist crimes and support to victims, summary of legislation, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/LSU/?uri=CELEX:32017L0541