policija, belgija, brussels police.jpg
Photograph: EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

European Union governments are again under pressure to enhance security and intelligence cooperation, after the Brussels terror attacks.

The issue was already on the table following the November 13 Islamist strikes on Paris, but officials say it was not tackled decisively enough.

"It’s beyond time to get serious about security," EU Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said in Brussels.

The commissioner blamed lack of shared intelligence as the reason why Paris attackers could not be stopped, even if "they were all somehow known to the local intelligence authorities."

Avramopoulos listed several priorities, including getting final European Parliament approval on European air passenger name records (PNR), tightening controls on firearms, and making greater recourse to EU police agency Europol to share counterterrorism information.

He also said Europe's Schengen zone, which allows border free travel across 26 nations, was "not the problem," but admitted that tighter controls were needed at its external frontiers, to screen people entering the free movement area.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who was visiting Brussels, sent a similar call for decisive action.

"In the years to come, the [EU] member states should invest massively in their security systems. We need to act as well on the European level, beginning with the cooperation between the member states," he said after meeting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Valls spoke of "an unequaled threat, a threat that is going to last," which will need to be confronted "at every level, diplomatically and militarily."

Singling out draft PNR proposals - which have stalled for years due to concerns about data privacy - the French premier said the database was at once a "tool and a symbol."

"It's a tool that is indispensable and could have perhaps allowed us to intercept a number of individuals if it had existed [...] so we need this tool. It is also a symbol that the European Parliament is totally engaged in the fight against terrorism," he said.

EU interior ministers were going to be summoned soon in Brussels to discuss how to move forward, Avramopoulos said, stressing the need for governments to be "determined and resilient not only in rhethoric but also in taking the necessary initiatives."

Hours later, the Dutch Presidency of the EU said the talks would take place at 4 pm (1500 GMT) Thursday.

Latest news

Trump-style rhetoric is making world more dangerous, Amnesty says

Divisive and "poisonous" language used by politicians such as US President Donald Trump is putting vulnerable populations at risk and making the whole world a more dangerous place, Amnesty International charged on Wednesday.

Canada soon to begin resettling Iraqi refugees, most of them Yezidis

Canada will resettle 1,200 survivors of the Islamic State campaign to target religious minorities in northern Iraq, Canadian officials announced Tuesday. 

Breitbart editor resigns after release of paedophilia comments

Milo Yiannopoulos, a controversial editor at the far-right Breitbart news website, resigned Tuesday after the emergence of recordings in which he appears to defend sexual relationships between young boys and older men.

Trump administration opens door for mass deportations

The US Department of Homeland Security laid the groundwork Tuesday for mass deportations of immigrants living illegally in the United States under an executive order by President Donald Trump last month.

Brexit bill: House of Lords says public can change mind on leaving EU

The British public should be able to change their minds on Brexit - just as Prime Minister Theresa May did, the upper chamber of parliament heard Tuesday during a marathon debate on legislation to kick off EU negotiations.

Italian lawmakers, rights activists clash over gay sex club scandal

Gay rights activists and conservative politicians clashed Tuesday after the chief of Italy's anti-discrimination office quit over allegations that money had been authorized for gay sex clubs.

EU countries agree new rules to avoid tax evasion

European Union finance ministers in Brussels on Tuesday reached a political agreement on new rules to ensure that multinational corporations do not declare profits in the countries where they pay the least tax but in the countries where they generate it.

Trump condemns "horrible, painful" anti-Jewish incidents

US President Donald Trump condemned a recent spate of threats against Jewish community targets across the United States, during a visit Tuesday to the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.

FinMin expects Croatia to exit Excessive Deficit Procedure this spring

Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said on Tuesday Croatia could exit the Excessive Deficit Procedure this spring and that it was showing progress in correcting macroeconomic imbalances.

Austria seeks to create jobs, but new EU immigrants need not apply

Austria plans to create 160,000 jobs in the next three years by subsidizing companies, but the project has raised concerns because it effectively excludes people who recently immigrated from other EU countries.

Juncker: Not good for W. Balkans that some in Washington want to water down EU

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday it was not good for Western Balkan countries that some people in the new US administration gave the impression of being against the European Union because those countries needed the prospects of EU membership.

Citizens invited to help create Croatian version of Monopoly

A project to create a Croatian edition of Monopoly, in which citizens can participate by submitting proposals and which could become a souvenir for tourists, was presented at a press conference on Tuesday.

German state approves full-face veil ban

Legislation that bans face veils in select public spaces and situations was agreed by the government of the southeastern German state of Bavaria on Tuesday.

Indian restaurant Gaggan in Bangkok named Asia's best for third year

Bangkok's Indian eatery Gaggan on Tuesday was named the best restaurant in Asia for the third consecutive year by Asia's 50 Best Restaurants.

HGK: 16 Croatian companies to exhibit at IDEX defence exhibition

Sixteen Croatian companies will exhibit their products at the 13th IDEX 2017 defence exhibition in Abu Dhabi, to be held on February 19-23.