EU Counter-Terrorism Law: Pre-emption & the Rule of Law

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Some readers may be interested in the recent publication of the monograph, EU Counter-Terrorism Law: Pre-emption & the Rule of Law, by Dr Cian Murphy of the Dickson Poon School of Law. The book is the first sustained study of EU legislation in the field of counter-terrorism. It critically examines EU counter-terrorism measures to ascertain how rule of law principles have been affected in the ‘war on terror’. The book opens with an overview of the “war on terror”. It notes that the trend in both the UK and US:

has been towards pre-emptive intervention that attempts to eliminate threats to national security before they arise. Building on twentieth-century ideas of risk and actuarial justice, these trends undermine traditional legal protections by shifting the target of law enforcement from acts already committed to action that may be committed in the future.

The book seeks to assess how these developments have had an impact on the rule of law. It develops a critical understanding of the EU rule of law and then goes on to analyse five key facets of EU counter-terrorism: the common European definition of terrorism along with related offences contained in the Framework Decision on Combating Terrorism; the EU’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist finance laws; UN and EU targeted asset-freezing sanctions; EU data retention measures such as the Data Retention Directive and the Passenger Name Records agreements; and the European Arrest Warrant and European Evidence Warrant. The book argues that EU counter-terrorism is weakening the rule of law and bypassing safeguards in favour of a system emphasising coercive control over individual autonomy. It concludes by examining the prospects for the future as the EU becomes a more powerful security actor following the Lisbon Treaty and the adoption of the Stockholm Programme. The Introduction, which can be read here, gives an idea of the conclusions:

The conclusions suggest that the EU rule of law is being reconfigured to the detriment of both the EU legal order and those individuals subject to EU law. These developments are made all the more disturbing as they come at a time when EU law is playing an increasing role in criminal justice in Europe. The Epilogue looks to the future under the Lisbon Treaty, the Stockholm Programme and the newly-updated Council Action Plan against Terrorism. It asks whether the EU can develop more rule of law compliant counter-terrorism in the post-‘war on terror’ world.

David Anderson QC, Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, notes:

The large-scale terrorist attacks of 2001 (USA), 2004 (Spain) and 2005 (UK) helped harness the counter-terrorist efforts of EU Member States through the development of new institutions, legislation, policies and third country agreements.  Some of the new developments were of benefit to law enforcement more generally.  The author expertly analyses the principal strands of the EU’s response criminalisation, measures against terrorist financing, targeted sanctions, data surveillance and European Warrants.  He also identifies and comments upon the profound challenges which the EU’s response, though bureaucratic rather than military in nature, poses to the protection of fundamental rights and the rule of law.  Unique in its range and its depth, this is the essential guide to EU counter-terrorism law.

The book is available direct from Hart Publishing, from, and from