Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs met today in Brussels to exchange views on taking forward their work on countering radicalisation and on enhancing cooperation between law enforcement and counter terrorism authorities. Ministers also assessed the ongoing work on reforming the Common European Asylum System and contributed to the debate on the appropriate means of addressing Encryption.

A high level expert group, set up earlier this year by the European Commission, to look at the best ways of countering radicalisation today presented an interim report to Ministers. Minister Flanagan welcomed the strong emphasis being placed on the need to ensure a cross-sectoral approach to countering radicalisation. He called on all involved to look at how we can work together to maximise the impact we have.

As part of discussions on countering terrorism Ministers also addressed means of enhancing cooperation between competent authorities. Commenting on the discussion, Minister Flanagan reinforced the priority status attached to deepening cooperation and to making the best use of the available EU and Member State resources. In facing down the threat from international terrorism Minister Flanagan said “Just as the threat from international terrorism is common to us all, taking collaborative approaches to face these challenges will better support and enhance the actions we are all taking to combat this threat. The safety and security of our citizens will always be our collective priority. Investing in the systems and networks to ensure our authorities have the necessary tools and resources to provide the most up-to-date information is one of the most crucial element of this.”

Ministers also held an exchange of views on how to approach the issues presented by Encryption. Minister Flanagan commenting on the challenges encryption poses said that “there are undoubtedly legitimate and essential uses and advantages to encryption for the individual, who is seeking to do no more than protect their data. This position must however be balanced against the requirements of law enforcement authorities, if we are to be successful in targeting illegal activity with a cyber-crime dimension. We have to find the right balance between privacy and the free use of the online space whereby the very necessary efforts to fight crime and terrorism and to ensure public safety can also be supported.”

Minister Flanagan also met bilaterally with the UK Home Secretary, Amber Rudd to discuss the ongoing cooperation between the two jurisdictions in the areas of crime, security and immigration.