Conference on the Protection of Places of Worship in the European Union
The conference organized online by the Internal Security Fund on March 25, 2021 presented six police projects designed to enhance the protection of public spaces and places of worship in 20 member states of the European Union.
The growing threat of terrorist attacks in Europe and the recent tragedies determined an increased awareness, special attention and funds in order to assure the protection of European citizens and the efficiency of safety measures. In the beginning of the event, Martin Schieffer, Head of Unit for Counter-Terrorism (DG HOME) brought forward the priorities which influenced the proposals, e.g., a better protection of worship places and the enhancement of public cooperation. Stephanie Carillon, Head of Unit for Union Actions and Procurement, offered details regarding the funding from the European Commission and also the legal frames necessary for the implementation of the projects which were accepted.
The proposals dealt with protection of worship centers and offered innovative solutions and initiatives meant to corroborate efforts from different institutions in national states and between different countries on the European level. For example, one of the projects, titled Protector, encompasses several European countries. The main objectives, devised in collaboration with religious leaders and stakeholders, target a proper assessment of hate crime and terrorist threats, a thorough analysis of Law Enforcement Agency policy and the strengthening of protective security postures of places and worship. Another objective, no less important, pursues the establishment of cooperation between public authorities, faith-based leaders and congregations. The project will output strategies, situational awareness tools, a security handbook and a training toolkit, webinars and seminars, and will conduct its activities in countries like Belgium, Italy, and Bulgaria.
As a conclusion for the conference, Martin Schieffer affirmed the need to implement the latest trends in technological improvements, to push forward and combine novelty with security and assure a better communication between different entities and authorities.