EU-Presidency: Anti-globalisation Activists are Terrorists
Jelle van Buuren 08.02.2002
Spain wants network of intelligence liaisons in the Member States to exchange
information on political activists
The European Union repeatedly stated over the past few months that activists
would not fall under the new anti-terrorist legislation. The distinction between
political activists and terrorists would not be blurred. New proposals from
Spain, the current EU-Presidency, however show different.
According to Spain, the European Member States have noticed 'a gradual increase
at various European Union summits and other events, in violence and criminal
damage orchestrated by radical extremist groups, clearly terrorising society'.
In the eyes of Spain, these actions from activists against globalisation are
without doubt terrorist activities. They are the work of 'a loose network hiding
behind various social fronts', by which Spain mean 'organisations taking advantage
of their lawful status to aid and abet the achievements of terrorist groups'
According to the Spanish proposal, 'violent urban youthful radicalism is increasingly
being used as a cat's-paw by terrorist groups in order to achieve their criminal
aims'. Therefore Spain wants to introduce a standard form for exchanging information
on these 'terrorist incidents'. The information must be exchanged between Member
States and Europol. Spain wants to use the BDL-network to exchange the information.
This network belongs to the 'bureaux des liaisons', the network of intelligence
liaisons in the Member States.
The aim of the information exchange is to 'help prevent such situations arising
at summits and other events arranged by various international organisations',
as well as 'the prosecuting of violent urban youthful radicalism'. The European
Working Group on Terrorism, in which experts from law enforcement and intelligence
agencies responsible for combating terrorism in each Member State participate,
studies the proposal of Spain.
After the attacks of the 11th September in the United States, the European
Union agreed new legislation on combating terrorism. The Union introduced a
common definition on terrorism and a European arrest warrant. Civil liberties
groups feared these proposals would criminalize political activism. But the
European ministers of Justice stated over and over that the new measures were
only directed at terrorists. Political activism, even when in turned into violence
during demonstrations, would not fall under the scope of the new measures.
The new Spanish proposal however shows different. Political activism and 'social
fronts' are directly linked to terrorism. Information has to be exchanged through
the intelligence canals of the European Union to prosecute political activist.
It is also noteworthy that Spain states that the organisations of political
activists are 'aiding and abetting' the achievements of terrorist groups' aims.
'Aiding and abetting' is one of the things that have been made punishable under
the new common definition on terrorism of the European Union.
Spain has a very specific approach to terrorism. During the 1st European Conference
on Terrorism in Madrid in January 2001, the Spanish Minister of Internal Affairs,
Jaime Mayor Oreha, stated: 'Terrorism is not only a group of commandos who act,
but is a project that tries to root itself in society, and to combat it is also
necessary to struggle against the social, economical, political and also communication
structures which support and nourish it.' Spain is acting on this approach.
A great many organisations, newspapers and radio stations have been forbidden
by decrete in the last four years, without one of these cases ever even reaching
On 17 January 2001, police in Amsterdam raided a famous 'legalised squat' and
arrested Juan Ramón Rodrìguez Fernández, wanted by the
Spanish police in connection with investigations into the separatist Basque
group ETA. Fernández is the lead singer of KOP, a politically inspired
band from Catalonia, and is accused by the Spanish police of having links to
an "ETA-cell" that was rounded-up in Barcelona last year. He is wanted
for allegedly passing information on Spanish neo-nazi groups such as Cedade
to ETA, although this information is not known to have lead to any offences
Source (as PDF-file):
COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
Brussels, 29 January 2002 (05.02)
Working Party on Terrorism
Subject: Presentation of a Presidency initiative for the introduction of a standard
form for exchanging information on terrorist incidents