Communiqué of the Executive Committee of Efus

Communiqué of the Executive Committee of Efus

Brussels, 17 November 2015

The meeting of the Executive Committee of the European Forum for Urban Security (Efus), on 17 November in Brussels, was held in a particularly difficult context following the attacks in Paris, which illustrate a well-known spiral and follow the terrorist attacks in Madrid, London, Copenhagen, Oslo, Brussels, but also Beirut, Ankara and Tunis, among other.

Today, with a feeling of emotion and shock but also with strong determination, the Executive Committee of the European Forum for Urban Security wishes to express its support to its member cities and in particular the Mayor of Paris, Anne HIDALGO, and the Mayor of Saint-Denis, Didier PAILLARD.

We wish to express our compassion and support to the families of the numerous French and foreign victims.

We commend the emergency services, the police, the fire brigades and the medical teams who were mobilised in this situation of emergency for their efficiency and dedication, as well as the victim support services, which will play an essential role in the weeks and months to come.

We also commend the huge and spontaneous citizen mobilisation: hundreds of people immediately reacted to help, to evacuate and host victims, to bring moral support and to contribute to the search for victims. Restaurants and bars welcomed and protected citizens; social networks developed operational support tools. This mobilisation highlights the essential role of all the components of civil society in the protection and promotion of our shared security.

Because they target what constitutes the very richness of European cities – access to culture and leisure, the sharing of public spaces and the mix of populations – these attacks are aimed at the constitutive principles of our societies. Cities are places where we build coexistence and social cohesion. Indeed, it is in these public spaces, cultural and sport venues and café terraces that exchanges take place among generations, among citizens of diverse origin and visitors from the world over.

Far from making us bow to terror, these acts strengthen our deep conviction, held for over 25 years, that networking is necessary; indeed, solidarity among cities and collective work are more crucial than ever.

Efus members work every day, in their own cities and at the European level, for security to be a common good shared among all. The prevention of exclusion and the fight against discrimination contribute to strengthening social links and to individual and collective resilience. The challenge for local elected officials is made even more complex by the fact that they cannot act alone on the fundamental causes of the emergence of terrorism, which lead some political forces to feed amalgams between immigration, terrorism and asylum.

The phenomenon of radicalisation leading to acts of violent extremism is by essence global; its causes and scope go far beyond the limits of cities. Yet, it is the elected officials and their teams and partners on the ground who have to manage the consequences of acts of violence and terrorism and build the resilience of their territories. Day after day, local elected officials manage the coexistence among populations, who can be worried as well as victims of stigmatisation. Cities have a crucial role to play in bringing coherence within local, national and European partnerships.

The question of the role of local powers in the prevention of radicalisation will be at the heart of the Aarhus Conference, on 18 November, which is co-organised with the Council of Europe and the cities of Aarhus (Denmark) and Rotterdam (Netherlands). This event follows a series of actions conducted by Efus over the past two years aimed at increasing local authorities’ knowledge and capacities in front of such a complex and evolutionary phenomenon, in the spirit of the Manifesto of Aubervilliers and Saint-Denis.