European Union embraces repressive laws

New, repressive measures will soon be implemented in the European Union in the name of “combating terrorism.” Critics say the measures are actually aimed at nipping a growing European left-wing radicalism in the bud.

The EU Council of Ministers of Justice and of Internal Affairs met Dec. 4-5 to approve a series of new mandates that authorize the gathering and retention of personal data on individuals and the monitoring of their activities, increased coordination between the police and the military, and heightened immigrant and refugee control.

Gijs de Vries, coordinator of the EU’s anti-terrorist commission, set the tone for the council meeting. His report summarized the progress his commission has made since June 2006, and emphasized, “The strategic obligation of the EU is to combat terrorism on a worldwide level.”

The report opens with a focus on “strategies against violent radicalization,” which is defined by the EU Council as “the phenomenon where people adhere to viewpoints, opinions and ideas that may lead to terrorist actions.” The Internet was cited as a key conduit for the dissemination of these ideas.

Notably, the commission is now funding a series of studies on radicalism, including “Causes of radicalization among youth.”

The council makes reference to the EU’s anti-terrorist laws, according to which actions carried out by unions and mass movements could theoretically be characterized as “terrorist.” In a similar vein, because of the vague wording, many labor and community activists could plausibly be labeled terrorists.

While the anti-terrorist laws indicate their starting point is “extreme Islamic radicalism,” they also claim to cover “every form of violent radicalism, nationalism, anarchism, autonomous, extreme-left or right-wing action.”

Given recent anti-communist measures (e.g. the banning of the Young Communist League in the Czech Republic, and an anti-communist motion in the Parliamentary Assembly of Europe), the new mandates clearly constitute a dangerous threat to all those who challenge the capitalist system, even in the realm of thought.

Systems of monitoring and recording personal information of all EU citizens, residents, and now visitors are being perfected and extended. The council plans to centralize in one giant database all information gathered via immigration and visa procedures, and to include biometric data in all EU country passports (only 18 have such data now).

Increased police and military response mechanisms were also approved, especially for border points. The creation of a “rapid intervention force” which could intervene in any member country if the member government were facing a “large-scale crisis” is being reconsidered.

Special police units are being set up that would permanently patrol the Mediterranean and Aegean coastlines. Critics say these units, when combined with newly enacted immigration laws, will lead to increased persecution against immigrants and refugees.

The 1.4 billion euros ($1.8 billion) that have been approved for 2007-2013 exclusively for “research relevant to security” show what EU rulers’ priorities are, in a vast area where the majority of citizens are trying to survive under a system of never-ending economic austerity.

It has become clear that, as capitalist restructuring intensifies, so does repression, police terror and the erosion of democracy, both EU-wide and in each member country.

Laura Petricola (laurajopetricola @ yahoo.com) writes from Athens, Greece.