Fight against terrorism to dominate EU summit of Ghent

The international campaign against terrorism is
likely to dominate the agenda of the informal EU summit of
Ghent on Friday, 19 October. The formal agenda includes the
launch of the euro, the future of the EU and enlargement.
However, the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US made
security issues the top priority for Europe.

The official agenda of the informal Ghent Summit includes
four points:

  • preparing for the introduction of the euro;
  • the future of Europe and the Declaration of
    Laeken;
  • the fight against terrorism in the aftermath of the
    attacks of 11 September;
  • enlargement.

The terrorist attacks are expected to
have a big impact on the EU’s eastward enlargement, with
new measures in the area of security imposing themselves.
Several EU officials have pointed out that the candidate
countries will have to meet new requirements to do with the
fight against terrorism.

Commission President Romano Prodi has
stressed ahead of the Ghent summit that enlargement remains
a top priority for the EU regardless of the current
international situation. He dismissed comments by some
officials that enlargement should be slowed down due to
terrorist threat and the global economic downturn. He
added, however, that the Ghent summit would not take any
significant political decisions on enlargement.

 

Positions

The debate at the summit may highlight some cracks in the
EU's support for US-British attacks against Afghanistan
whose Taliban regime shelters the Al-Qaida terrorist
network of Osama Bin Laden.
Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt

who is presiding over the summit says the EU should support
only "targeted" attacks against terrorists and their
supporters. Some EU officials have expressed concern over
"collateral damage" suffered by the civilian population of
Afghanistan.

The
prime ministers of Britain, Germany and France,
Tony Blair, Gerhard Schröder and Lionel Jospin, and
French President Jacques Chirac

will meet ahead of the EU summit to discuss
counter-terrorism actions. Only Britain is taking an active
part in the anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan,
however both France and Germany have expressed willingness
to share responsibility for counter-terrorism fight when
called upon.

In a speech to German parliament ahead
of the Ghent summit,
Mr Schröder

has called on EU leaders to work together against
international terrorism, setting up common policing and
judicial resources. Mr Schröder sees the present
threat as an opportunity to strengthen the integration of
Europe.

 

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