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EU can't just live with terror attacks

By Fu Jing | China Daily Europe | Updated: 2016-08-14 07:34

European Union officials talk a lot about human rights, but security is an important right they must guarantee

During the decade ending 2014, the European Union could boast that it was safer than most of the rest of the world, mainly because the number of terrorist attack victims was on the increase globally but had fallen in the EU.

From 2009 to 2013, according to EU figures, 38 people in the bloc perished in such attacks. By 2014, the annual total was four, though a growing number of Europeans lost their lives in terrorist attacks in conflict zones outside the EU.

But last year, things got dramatically worse.

In 2015, 151 people died and over 360 were injured as a result of terrorist attacks in the EU, according to the European Police Office, the EU's law enforcement agency, in its annual report in July.

The report started to monitor the terrorism situation after the Sept 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

This year, the damaging attacks spread to Belgium, with explosions killing 32 at Brussels' airport and metro in March. In July, a Tunisian described as a radicalized Muslim killed 84 on Bastille Day in Nice in southern France when he drove a truck into a crowd. Smaller-scale terror attacks have happened from time to time in recent days in other countries.

Statistics show the terrorism situation in the European Union has been worsening mainly, as the European Police Office says, due to the rising threat of the Islamic State terror organization and the worrying development of xenophobic, racist and anti-semitic sentiments across the EU.

It says the overall threat to security in the EU remains on an upward trajectory, which is unacceptable. Some European politicians, like French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, say Europe must live with such danger for awhile.

The European Union has tried to absolve itself of blame, saying on its website that terrorism is not a new phenomenon in Europe and that between 2009 and 2013 there were 1,010 failed, foiled or completed attacks in EU member states. In 2015, the total stood at 211.

Such an argument makes little sense. The fact is that deaths have been rising rapidly, which shows the bloc really needs to increase its efforts to prevent and counter terrorism, especially in France, where most major tragedies have happened since 2015.

Some put forward the absurd argument that France is safe because the likelihood of losing one's life in a traffic accident or house fire is several times higher than dying in a terrorism attack.

Come on. Life is valuable and all such abnormal deaths should be prevented to the degree possible.

What's more, in the European Union, where human rights and values are always on the lips of officials, the occurrence of terrorist attacks should be zero, if it insists that its basic mission is offering security and safety for its citizens.

If the situation doesn't get better soon, then the European Union, a project aimed at advocating regional peace after World War II, is on the verge of falling into another potential credibility crisis amid the unfolding of the UK's departure.

This is mainly because bloody terrorist attacks act as a tremendous disruptive force that affects a long chain of people within and outside Europe.

For example, a growing number of Chinese are concerned about the security situation in Europe when they choose to invest, travel or send their children to study. Some Chinese parents are urging children who have already settled down in London, Paris and Brussels to return to China.

Reactions in China and other non-EU countries will affect the businesses of many Europeans. The declining number of tourists going to Europe is a telling statistic.

So the politicians in Europe must realize the severe consequences if the terrorist attacks continue one after another. This has the effect of eroding the attraction of Europe as a destination.

Believe it or not, confidence in the European Union will be largely shattered if this situation continues for another two or three years.

For the safety and prosperity of the bloc, it is time for the politicians to face the astonishing rise in deaths from terrorist attacks since 2015 and try by every means possible to eradicate such criminal acts, instead of saying Europe must live with it.

The author is deputy chief of China Daily European Bureau. Contact the writer at

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