On June 19, a meeting of European Union countries failed to agree on a United Kingdom–sponsored proposal to list the military wing of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
Despite the support of the U.K., France, Germany, and the Netherlands, the EU—which requires consensus to list a group as a terrorist organization—unsurprisingly failed to agree on listing Hezbollah.
The recent EU failure to reach consensus on the designation is not the first time the issue has been postponed. An EU meeting on June 4 reached a similarly disappointing result. Hezbollah has a long, disturbing history of terrorist attacks in Europe, most recently a July 18, 2012, bus bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria, that left five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian bus driver dead. In March, a Cypriot court sentenced a Hezbollah member to four years in jail for planning attacks in Cyprus. While support for listing Hezbollah as a terrorist organization has been gaining strength within Europe, the likelihood that the EU will be able to reach a consensus, and do so in a timely manner, is slim.
As Heritage’s Luke Coffey and James Phillips recommend, the U.S. should bypass the EU and work with individual European nations to list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, a move that would severely curtail the group’s activities on European soil:
The U.S. should continue to pressure its European partners to act by working bilaterally with EU countries—i.e., outside the EU framework—and non-EU countries such as Norway, Switzerland, and Turkey to take action against Hezbollah.
Listing Hezbollah would help disrupt travel of its members, help strip away whatever political legitimacy it has within Europe, and—most importantly—close off fundraising activities on the continent.
The threat of Hezbollah terrorist activities are real, and sovereign European nations have a duty to their citizens to help ensure their safety by pulling their heads out of the sand and designating Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The EU will continue to find a way to put it off. Individual European nations that do not act on their own are playing a dangerous game of wait and see.