Over a decade ago, it was claimed that the EU was an ‘absent friend’ in foreign policy counter-terrorism. Much has changed since then, however. Al Qaeda and Islamic State are shadows of what they were. The contribution of this article is to re-evaluate and offer a theoretically-informed account of the development of the EU’s global counter-terrorism role, drawing on collective securitisation. We advance two arguments here. Firstly, EU global counter-terrorism activity has occurred, grown, and become routinised due to terrorist threats and attacks, institutional developments, and interactions with interlocutors. Secondly, the characterisation of the EU as an ‘absent friend’ is unsustainable in 2021. While the EU remains secondary to its member states in many ways, it has developed tools of its own that have enhanced its capabilities in external counter-terrorism.