European Remembrance Day for Victims of Terrorism: European Commission statement

Brussels, 11 March 2019

Today the European Commission marks the 15th European Remembrance Day for Victims of Terrorism – an annual event to commemorate the Madrid bombings of 11 March 2004 which took the lives of 193 EU citizens and injured thousands more.

“Today, we remember all those who have lost their lives or loved ones to terror, irrespective of whether those terrorist attacks took place inside the European Union or beyond its borders. We pay tribute to all those affected by these heinous crimes, families and friends, and commit to stand united in our fight against terrorism.

The scars run deep and while they may fade with time, they will never disappear. We cannot erase those memories but we can do our utmost to help those affected find solace.

EU-wide rules already ensure that victims of terrorists’ attacks have the necessary support as soon as an attack has happened and for as long as they need it. This includes medical, psychological and trauma assistance as well as legal advice to seek justice. The new EU Centre of Expertise for Victims of Terrorism – a hub of expertise, guidance and support – will be set up this year with €1 million already earmarked.

We cannot allow fear to divide us, as this is exactly what the perpetrators seek. The only way we can overcome the challenge of terrorism is by working together, and remembering the values and ties that bind us. This is what the Juncker Commission has been doing for the past 4 years. We have been fighting terrorist propaganda – offline and online, closing information gaps, denying terrorists the means to act and countering radicalisation.

Today we also thank the everyday heroes, first responders working together on the front line to make sure that no victim is left behind. Europe is a safer place because of their work. This is who we are.”

Background

Security has been a political priority since the beginning of the Juncker Commission’s mandate – from President Juncker’s Political Guidelines of July 2014 to his latest State of the Union address on 12 September 2018. Providing support to victims of crime, including victims of terrorist attacks, is an important part of the Commission’s work to address all dimensions of terrorist threats.

The EU has put in place a strong legal framework to support and protect victims across Europe through the Victims Rights’ Directive and the Directive on Combatting Terrorism. The Commission also finances projects aimed at defending victims’ rights, including victims of terrorism under the Justice programme (with a budget of approximately €2,5 million for 2018).

In October 2017, Joëlle Milquet was appointed Special Adviser to President Jean-Claude Juncker for the compensation of victims of crime. Today, Ms Milquet is publishing her report on strengthening victims’ rights: from compensation to reparation. The report provides for 41 detailed recommendations on how to improve victims’ access to justice and compensation at EU and national level (full press release here). Victims’ support and rights are also at the heart of work carried out by Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN).

The European Day of Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism was established after the Madrid Bombings of 11 March 2004. Each year since 2005, the European Union remembers on this date the victims of terrorist atrocities.