BERLIN/PARIS—the European Union (E.U.) justice and interior ministers to meet on Friday — the fifth anniversary of coordinated attacks in Paris in which Islamist gunmen killed more than 130 people — to discuss a joint security response to the latest incidents.
France and Germany pushed on Tuesday to tighten E.U. borders to head off what French President Emmanuel Macron called the “threat of terrorism” after suspected Islamist militants killed eight people in Paris, Nice and Vienna within a month.
The attacks refocused the E.U.’s attention on religious extremism, which fell off the top of the political agenda after the 2017 defeat of Islamic State forces in the Middle East.
Under pressure to beef up security and reassure voters following the latest attacks, Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europe’s troubled Schengen zone of control-free travel over open borders urgently needed fixing.
The attacks in Nice and Vienna involved assailants who moved freely between Schengen countries.
“The threat of terrorism weighs on all of Europe. We must respond,” Macron said after discussing the matter with Merkel, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and top officials in Brussels, the E.U. hub.
“To reform Schengen is to allow free movement in security.”
“It is vitally necessary to know who comes in and who leaves the Schengen area,” the German Chancellor said.
Austria’s Kurz also called for a more coordinated plan for dealing with foreign militants while Dutch premier Rutte emphasized stopping “undesirable” foreign financing as a further avenue to tackle extremism.
The leaders also considered other ideas—including imposing stricter demands on online platforms to combat extremism, setting up a special European institute to train Muslim imams, and being able to effectively deport people with no claim to asylum in Europe as well as criminals and suspected extremists.
E.U. justice and interior ministers meet on Friday — the fifth anniversary of coordinated attacks in Paris in which Islamist gunmen killed more than 130 people — to discuss a joint security response to the latest incidents.
The 27 E.U. ministers are due to discuss those proposals on Friday. Commenting on the latest attacks, the E.U.’s top migration official, Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson, said on Tuesday the two debates should not be confused.
“It is important that we are not afraid or migration, especially not of migrants,” the Swede said in a speech.
“We need to manage migration but migration by itself is not a security threat. There might be individuals who are dangerous — among migrants but also among people who already live here.
“Migration as such is not dangerous,” Johansson said.
The memory of the loud sound of the blasts sounded like a faulty amplifier to those packed into the crowd at Paris’s Bataclan theater remains and security concerns are running high.
Ninety people died during the blast inside the venue, nor forty more killed in the four hour assault on the French capital. Five years on, Dénouveaux is still marked by the experience.