This book is about the language of the European Union’s response to the threat of terrorism: the ‘fight against terrorism’. Since its re-emergence in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the ‘fight against terrorism’ has come to represent a priority area of action for the European Union (EU). Drawing on interpretive approaches to International Relations, the author outlines a discourse theory of identity and counter-terrorism policy in order to explore the ways in which the EU’s counter-terrorism discourse has been constructed and the ways in which it functions. Importantly, the author shows how the ‘fight against terrorism’ structures the EU response to terrorism through the prism of identity, drawing our attention to the various ‘others’ that have come to form the target of EU counter-terrorism policy. Through an extensive analysis of the wider societal impact of the EU’s ‘fight against terrorism’ discourse, the author reveals the various ways in which EU counter-terrorism policy is contributing to the ‘securitisation’ of social and political life within Europe.
The language of the European Union’s ‘fight against terrorism’
The introduction begins by making a case for analysing the language of EU counter-terrorism policy. It outlines the main aims of the research conducted in the book. The chapter discusses the relationship between terrorism, counter-terrorism and security before locating the analysis of the ‘fight against terrorism’ firmly within the ‘critical’ traditional of International Relations (IR). Having established the motivation for adopting a critical perspective, the chapter discusses what is meant by the notion of ‘actorness’ with specific reference to how the EU is conceptualised as a security actor for the purpose of the research conducted in this book. The chapter concludes by considering both the ‘traditional’ and ‘critical literature’ on EU counter-terrorism policy, identifying the unique contribution that the research conducted in this book will make to debates in this field of study.
Chapter One outlines the analytical techniques that were used to explore the EU’s ‘fight against terrorism’ discourse. The chapter contends that language and identity are significant in that they help to construct the ‘fight against terrorism’ discourse, which it is argued makes the practice of EU counter-terrorism policy possible. The chapter considers three theoretical concepts that underpin this investigation into EU counter-terrorism policy: discourse, representation and securitisation. The chapter outlines the methodological approach used to conduct this analysis of the ‘fight against terrorism’: a three-step process of discourse analysis. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how the analysis was itself completed and why various texts were selected for analysis.
Chapter Two provides a genealogy of the threat of terrorism discourse, as it has been articulated in Western European, European Community (EC) and European Union (EU) security discourses. The first section investigates the intellectual and practical origins of the threat of terrorism discourse in Western Europe between the 1970s and the events of September 11, 2001. It traces the emergence of terrorism as a transnational security problem for European governments, exploring the link between the discourse on terrorism and the creation of a transnational framework for cooperation on matters of cross-border law enforcement (Trevi); and later a holistic system of governance for the provision of internal security under the auspices of the EU’s Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ). The second section investigates the (re)emergence of the EU’s ‘fight against terrorism’ discourse following the events of September 11, 2001 and its subsequent evolution across three periods: the post-September 11 period; the post-Madrid period; and the post-Breivik period. The chapter identifies the ‘key texts’ that will be analysed, drawing out the main strands of the ‘fight against terrorism’ discourse that make up the focus of the empirical analysis conducted in the rest of the book.
A ‘new’ and ‘evolving’ threat to the European Union
Chapter Three analyses four strands of the ‘fight against terrorism’ discourse in a detailed manner. The first part of the chapter maps each of the discourse strands, demonstrating how they help to construct the figure of the ‘terrorist’ other. The chapter argues that the ‘terrorist’ other is constructed within the discourse as an extreme and radical threat to the EU who is simultaneously perceived to potentially be a ‘criminal’, a ‘new’ and ‘evolving’ threat, a non-state actor, a member of a group or an individual, such as a ‘lone actor’ or a ‘returning foreign fighter’, who seeks to inflict ‘massive casualties’ against the EU and its member states. The second part of the chapter reflects on the how the ‘fight against terrorism’ discourse functions. It argues that the EU has adopted a criminal justice-based approach to counter-terrorism, which can be differentiated from the US war-based discourse of the ‘war on terror’. The chapter argues that the EU understanding of terrorism is based upon and also constructs an ‘accepted knowledge’ about terrorism that is highly contested, as well as considering the political and societal implications of the discourse.
Chapter Four explores the strand of the ‘fight against terrorism’ discourse that constructs the ‘openness’ of EU society as ‘vulnerable’ to the threat of terrorism. This chapter focuses on how the discourse implicitly constructs the ‘migrant’ other as a potential terrorist threat through the linking of counter-terrorism to migration and border control policies. The first part of the chapter identifies three intertwined strands of the ‘fight against terrorism’ discourse. First, the idea that the EU’s ‘globalised’ or ‘open’ society represents a potential source of terrorist threat. Second, a discourse of ‘surveillance’ and ‘control’, which operates to justify and legitimise the counter-response to the threat. Third, in response to the phenomena of EU citizens leaving to fight in conflicts in other parts of the world, the construction of the figure of the ‘returning foreign fighter’. The second half of the chapter shows how the EU has invoked the terrorist threat in order to legitimise ever increasingly sophisticated policies, practices and measures aimed at the ‘control’ of the ‘migrant’ other. It is argued that this is reflective of and helps to contribute to wider securitisation processes within the EU.
Preventing ‘radicalisation’, ‘violent extremism’ and ‘terrorism’
Chapter Five investigates the strand of the ‘fight against terrorism’ discourse that connects the threat of terrorism to ‘violent religious extremism’, ‘radicalisation’ and the threat of the ‘Muslim’ other. The first part of the chapter maps the emergence and evolution of this stand of the discourse. The chapter shows how in its initial phase the language of ‘radicalisation and recruitment’ to terrorism contained an assumption that ‘radicalisation’ was something more likely to occur in Europe’s ‘Muslim communities’, arguing that the impact of this was to implicitly construct the ‘Muslim’ other as a potential terrorist threat. The second part of the chapter critiques the concept of ‘radicalisation’ demonstrating how knowledge about ‘radicalisation’ is highly contested and retains an implicit racial bias against the ‘Muslim’ other, which it has been unable to shed. I conclude by considering how the logic of counter-radicalisation is making possible a new form of precautionary security governance, the impact of which is the further securitisation of social and political life within the EU
The ‘fight against terrorism’ discourse and the EU’s emerging role as a holistic security actor
The final chapter highlight the main contribution that this research makes to debates on EU counter-terrorism policy. The first part argues that an exploration of language, identity and the study of ‘others’ is essential if we are to develop a comprehensive understanding of the EU’s ‘fight against terrorism’. The second part considers the EU’s emerging role as a holistic security actor. The third part demonstrates how the EU is developing a particular security identity that is committed to the creation of a system of precautionary security governance. The fourth part reflects on the implications of the ‘fight against terrorism’ for ‘human rights’ in the EU area, as well as the extent to which the EU counter-terrorism response can be considered effective. The fifth part offers some discussion of future avenues for research, including some of the limitations of the interpretive approach adopted in this study. Finally, concluding remarks are offered on the significance of the EU’s ‘fight against terrorism’ discourse.