The European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) was launched this month to serve as an enhanced central information hub to increase information sharing and operational coordination.
The ECTC will improve the exchange of information between law enforcement agencies,” Minister of Security and Justice of the Netherlands Ard van der Steur, who currently holds the presidency of the Council of the EU, said. “This is the kind of cooperation Europe needs in the fight against organized crime and terrorism.”
The ECTC’s launch follows a decision by the EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in November after the deadly Nov. 13 Paris attacks that left 130 dead and 368 people injured. The attacks and growing number of foreign fighters showed a new challenge for EU member states.
“EU institutions responded swiftly and strongly to the terrorist attacks of last year and moved to augment the European Union’s capacity to deal with the terrorist threat,” European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said. “As foreseen in the European Agenda on Security put forward by the European Commission, the establishment of the European Counter Terrorism Centre is a major strategic opportunity for the EU to make our collective efforts to fight terrorism more effective. I call on EU member states to trust and support the European Counter Terrorism Centre to help it succeed in its important mission.”
Manuel Navarrete Paniagua will lead the ECTC. Paniagua is a high-ranking officer in the Spanish Guardia Civil and has extensive practical counterterrorism experience. He also served as the head of Europol’s counterterrorism unit. The ECTC organizational structure is the same as that of Europol to allow for easier collaboration in the response to terrorist threats.
“Our ambition is for the European Counter Terrorism Centre to become a central information hub in the fight against terrorism in the EU, providing analysis for ongoing investigations and contributing to a coordinated reaction in the event of major terrorist attacks,” Europol Director Rob Wainwright said. “Europol is grateful for the support of the Member States, the European Parliament and the European Commission in the establishment of the ECTC. It will lie at the heart of a stronger EU standing up to the threat of terrorism.”