This page was archived on October 2020.


Cooperation on European security issues

52 - Relations with the US on counter-terrorism

Grade: B+
Unity 4/5
Resources 3/5
Strategy 4/5
Impact 3/5
Total 14/20
Scorecard 2015: B+ (14/20)
Scorecard 2014: B+ (14/20)
Scorecard 2013: B- (12/20)

EU–US cooperation on terrorism increased in line with the heightened threat posed by ISIS

The threat of terrorism to Europe and the US rose dramatically in 2015 as ISIS departed from their focus on the “near enemy”in Syria and launched attacks further afield, including in Paris. The attacks put the anti-ISIS fight at the top of the domestic agenda on both sides of the Atlantic.

After the Paris attacks, France invoked Article 42.7 of the EU treaty (the solidarity clause) instead of Article 5 of NATO (the mutual defence clause). Many in the US had speculated that France might invoke Article 5, but the French government felt that enlisting NATO could complicate efforts to secure Russian cooperation in the war against ISIS. Moreover, there is already an anti-ISIS coalition that NATO has no formal part in. France and the UK cooperated with the US (and the other members of the UN Security Council) to pass a Chapter VII resolution (2249) against ISIS in the aftermath of the attacks on Ankara, Beirut, and Paris.

Following the Paris attacks, French President François Hollande called on the international community to join military strikes against ISIS. While Obama did not substantially change his Syria strategy, the US has stepped up its role by pledging increased coordination with French efforts, the commitment of more special forces, and the opening of a southern front in Syria against ISIS’s stronghold of Raqqa. Obama’s rhetoric has continued to reflect reticence and restraint –he pledged “sustained support” abroad and greater prevention at home.

The EU and the US also deepened their dialogue on security cooperation, including revisiting sensitive topics such as passenger-name registries. The US adjusted its visa waiver programme to exclude Europeans who have visited Iraq or Syria in the past five years. Meanwhile, earlier in the year, the US relaxed its policies on responding to kidnapping to allow for dialogue – but not negotiations – with terrorists, and also opened the door for private payment of ransoms.