Terrorism and EU security strategy to top European Council agenda

EU justice and interior ministers will gather
for an emergency meeting this Friday to map out anti-terrorism
measures to be taken by the European Council.

Plans to appoint a security coordinator to boost
cooperation between EU bodies and measures to increase
co-operation between police and security services and
collaboration in intelligence services between Member
States will be debated at an emergency meeting of EU
interior and justice ministers on Friday. These proposals
will then be discussed by the foreign affairs ministers
on Monday in preparation for the European Council on
25-26 March, where terrorism is due to overshadow
scheduled talks on the Lisbon agenda.

Javier Solana, EU High Representative for Foreign
Policy, came up with the idea of appointing a "Mister
Terrorism" to co-ordinate the measures taken to combat
terrorism. Its December 2003 report on Europe's security
strategy identifies the biggest threats for EU security
and it will figure high on the agenda of the European
Council. Javier Solana highlighted that "Europe is both a
target and a base for terrorism: European countries are
targets and have been attacked. Logistical bases for Al
Qaeda cells have been uncovered in the UK, Italy,
Germany, Spain and Belgium. Concerted European action is
indispensable". He added that more intelligence-sharing
between European services is needed.

"We have to discuss thoroughly the entire [security]
strategy and we will do it at the Summit next week. The
anti-terrorism commissioner could be a piece of that
strategy," said Mr Prodi. A meeting will be held today
between European Commissioners where proposals on tougher
EU measures, notably in the field of transportation
security and money-laundering, will be discussed.

Meanwhile, Brian Cowen, Irish Minister for Foreign
Affairs, stressed that "the fight against terrorism must
be conducted in full respect of human rights and
fundamental freedom" and highlighted the EU's
determination to address the causes of terrorism: "to
seek to understand the causes of terrorism should not be
misunderstood as being soft on terrorism. On the
contrary, this is an essential step in its elimination".
Moreover, the Irish Presidency announced that it is
examining initiatives to improving coordination and
cooperation between the EU and the UN and in particular
ways to support the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee.


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