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Migration and Home Affairs
News article23 July 20213 min read

The new way forward on European internal security: one year on

On 24 July, the European Commission celebrates the first anniversary of the new way forward on internal security.

The new way forward on internal security comprises three key initiatives, which were presented together on 24 July 2020:

  • an EU strategy for a more effective fight against child abuse;
  • a new EU Agenda and Action Plan on Drugs that was later developed as the EU Drugs Strategy 2021-2025, and
  • an EU Action Plan on firearms trafficking.

In addition to these, the Commission has put forward a number of other initiatives to improve European internal security. In particular, the Commission proposed a new Counter-Terrorism Agenda to boost the EU’s resilience to terrorism, supporting Member States in anticipating, preventing, protecting and responding to terrorist threats. It also presented a new EU Strategy to tackle Organised Crime, focusing on law enforcement and judicial cooperation, tackling organised crime structures and high priority crimes, removing criminal profits and ensuring a modern response to technological developments. The EU has put in place a new EU Strategy on Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings, to reduce demand for trafficking and all forms of exploitation, and to empower victims, especially women and children.

More information on these initiatives can be found on the dedicated:

Ylva Johansson, Commissioner for Home Affairs, said: “Over the past 12 months, thanks to the incredible work of all colleagues in DG HOME, we have together made a major boost strengthening European internal security, by presenting new initiatives and legislation to fight organised crime, to counter terrorism and combat more effectively child sexual abuse. Together with a more effective management of European external borders, as well as a new Pact on Migration and Asylum, these initiatives help support an area of freedom, security and justice for all Europeans.”

Progress under the Firearms Action Plan

It is estimated that 35 million illicit firearms were owned by civilians in the EU in 2017 (56% of the estimated total of firearms), most of them obtained via illicit transfers between EU Member States or via smuggling from outside of the EU.

In this first year of the Firearms Action Plan, the Commission focused specifically on tackling control and acquisition of firearms across EU Member States. In particular, the Commission worked with partners such as EMPACT Firearms, EU agencies, SEESAC and INTERPOL to develop intelligence activities, enhance cooperation against criminal markets, and set up National Firearms Focal Points. Looking ahead, the Commission will continue focussing on better data collection, patrolling the dark-net, improving the cooperation between customs, law enforcement and prosecutors.

Progress under the EU Drugs Strategy 2021-2025

The illicit drug market in the EU is estimated at a minimum retail value of EUR 30 billion per year, representing a major source of income for organised crime groups in the EU. The Commission has implemented activities with the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), Europol, the EU High-Representative, the Council of the European Union, and civil society partners in in key areas for disrupting drug supply, raising awareness to reduce drug demand, as well as supporting people involved in drug-related harm.

Progress in the fight against Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse is a serious crime that takes place both offline and online. The COVID-19 crisis has further exacerbated the problem and the demand for child sexual abuse material has increased up to 25% in some Member States.

The Commission has quickly put forward an interim Regulation to ensure that online platform services can voluntarily detect, report and remove content of child sexual abuse online. The Commission is working on a proposal for long-term legislation obliging relevant online companies to detect and report to public authorities about child abusive material. Moreover, the Commission is putting efforts to create a European Centre to prevent and counter child sexual abuse, as well as a network on prevention to support EU Member States in implementing preventive measures.

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Publication date
23 July 2021