Counterterrorism in external action:
The EU’s toolbox for responding to terrorism abroad
The Finnish Institute of International Affairs
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The Algerian hostage incident in January 2013 was a good
example of the type of terrorism that Europeans are likely to face at the
moment: the target was a multinational energy plant in the European
neighbourhood, the motives were both political and economic, and the
perpetrators were part of a global ideology, but acted in their local
The EU did not take a political stance nor launch any of the
crisis response arrangements during the hostage situation, although both France
and the UK were active in the crisis and their citizens were at risk.
The European Security Strategy has named terrorism as one of
the main threats to Europe and the objective is to address the threats abroad
as well. This is being achieved through several horizontal tools and
institutions that are dealing with terrorism either directly or indirectly.
However, the structures are complex and bureaucratic, which demands a lot from
Hypothetically, the solidarity clause could also be used in
some special crises in mobilising policing capabilities abroad in order to
assist those EU member states that do not have such resources, but so far the
clause has not been tested. Another option would be further integration
regarding police forces and intelligence services.
Good bilateral relations are the best tool for preventing
terrorism in the European neighbourhood. Special attention needs to be paid to
the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership countries due to recent political change and
armed conflicts that raise the risk level in the region.