Europe in the grips of fear

In view of the tougher security measures in Europe after the Paris terror attacks, the press asks how much freedom states can sacrifice in the name of security? While some commentators warn against tighter controls, others see people's fear of surveillance as a joke.

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Der Standard (AT) /

Security policy dividing EU

The question of how much freedom should be sacrificed for the fight against terror poses a threat to EU unity, the centre-left daily Der Standard comments: "France has not only invoked the EU mutual defence clause. Paris (and other states) will also demand a tougher approach on security and justice. In these areas the interests of the member states vary widely - almost even more than on euro policy. For the French, data control and storage are just as acceptable as the fact that for terrorist suspects certain civil rights no longer apply. In Germany in particular, which has been spared from terrorist attacks so far, the opposite seems to be the case. ... If the EU wants to preserve its openness and lack of border controls it urgently needs to reach a consensus with its member states on freedom and security. If it doesn't, the Union could begin to crumble."

Sme (SK) /

Ridiculous surveillance fears

Tougher controls won't turn the countries of Europe into police states from one day to the next, the liberal daily Sme is convinced: "Up to now the Belgian police is only allowed to search homes between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. So the terrorists can sleep peacefully. Should this make us laugh or cry? … The EU Parliament is also blocking an eight-year-old draft law that obliges airlines to gather passenger data. Security experts say the data could help uncover entire networks of jihadists. But MEPs talk of this being too great a violation of the private sphere. It's paradoxical: people reveal all kinds of things about themselves on the web but are scared by the idea of airlines retaining their names and the credit card numbers they have no qualms about using to buy stuff online."

Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (PL) /

Don't succumb to intimidation

Terrorism will always exist but Europe must keep a cool head, philosopher Marcin Król writes in the conservative daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna: "The terrorists hadn't struck for some time. However that's not because our European security services worked so well but because the terrorists were in disarray after the death of Osama bin Laden. Now Islamic State has given them backing. ... Basically no one is safe from terrorist attacks. But that doesn't mean we should let ourselves be intimidated. And the politicians must finally start thinking in bigger categories and looking ahead. If liberal European freedoms are now curtailed then the terrorists and other enemies of democracy like Putin will have achieved their goals. The attacks in Paris are certainly a tragedy, but we have to maintain a sense of proportion."

The Independent (GB) /

Europe defiant in the face of terror

Despite the terrorist threat people in Paris and other European cities are getting on with their lives as best they can, writes the centre-left daily The Independent approvingly: "The overriding mood, in Paris and across the world, is one of determined optimism, a resistance to division and fear. It is heartening to see so many stand against giving the terrorists what they want. Being reminded of the universal defiance, resolve and courage that the majority of humankind has in its weaponry is a silver lining in a time of enormous grief. And watching Europe bounce back from the threat of all-consuming hatred is enough to make you smile - however briefly."