Macron says terrorism threat needs quick European answer, Merkel urges Schengen border reform
PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday urged a “rapid and coordinated” European response to terror attacks that have plagued the continent in recent years.
Such a response should focus on “the development of common databases, the exchange of information or the strengthening of criminal policies,” he said after hosting a video conference with fellow EU leaders.
The online summit came a week after a convicted Daesh supporter killed four people in a shooting rampage in the heart of Vienna, following hot on the heels of last month’s attack on a church in the French city of Nice and the beheading of a teacher in a Paris suburb two weeks before that.
Macron called the summit after the Austrian attack to seek an EU-wide response to Islamic extremist attacks.
It was attended by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, European Council chief Charles Michel and EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen.
The leaders discussed the need for a “determined fight against terrorist propaganda and hate speech on the internet,” Macron told an online briefing after the meeting.
“The internet is a space of freedom, our social networks too, but this freedom exists only if there is security and if it is not the refuge of those who flout our values or seek to indoctrinate with deadly ideologies,” he said.
In other measures to combat terrorism, Macron last week announced a doubling of the number of French border guards, and called for a “deep” revision in the rules for the Schengen area that guarantees the free movement of people across borders.
German Chancellor Merkel also said it was urgently necessary for Europe to reform the open-border Schengen area in light of recent terrorist attacks.
“I want to mention the entry-exit system in the Schengen area, which should be ready in 2022,” she said after the meeting.
“It is vitally necessary to know who comes in and who leaves the Schengen area.”