EU’s foreign affairs ministers want stronger emphasis to be put on international co–operation in the fight against terrorism. Germany is struggling to meet a 30 June deadline for implementing anti-terrorism measures.
Foreign affairs ministers fine-tuned the draft declaration on anti-terrorism measures to be approved by EU leaders at the end of the European Council. During their meeting on 22 March, most Member States agreed to set a 30 June deadline for implementing measures contained in the EU action plan on terrorism agreed by Member States in the aftermath of the New York attacks in 2001. This includes the European arrest warrant, the creation of joint EU investigative teams, improving police and judicial co-operation and ways to combat money laundering as well as the identification, tracing, freezing and confiscation of funds linked to crime.
However, Germany opposed setting a June deadline, arguing that it faces problems in meeting EU deadlines because of its federal decentralised system, which slows down decision-making. Germany is also resisting a mention - in the draft declaration - about developing a relationship between Europol, the EU's fledgling intelligence agency, and national intelligence services, the Financial Times reported.
Foreign Affairs ministers backed the future appointment of 'Mr Terrorism', due to work under the responsibility of EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solona (See
EURACTIV, 19 March 2004). They described the fight against terrorism as "a key element of political dialogue" with other countries and agreed that countries whose cooperation is deemed insufficient to tackle terrorism would risk a loss of aid and trade. Ministers also approved the signing by EU leaders of a solidarity declaration committing all members to offer military and other assistance to any EU country that suffers a terrorist attack. Other measures that will be given a push include stepping up security in EU ports and the introduction of 'biometric' fingerprint data in European passports.