EU summit to approve anti-terror measures

24th March 2004, Comments 0 comments

24 March 2004, BRUSSELS - European Union leaders will approve anti-terror measures at a summit opening Thursday aimed at ratcheting up security after the deadly Madrid train bombings. Included in the package are both symbolic and hard-headed moves to dampen public panic following Europe's worst terrorist attack since the 1988 Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. The two-day European Union summit will create a new "security czar" to coordinate anti-terrorism policies in the soon-to-be 25 nation bloc. Ca


24 March 2004

BRUSSELS - European Union leaders will approve anti-terror measures at a summit opening Thursday aimed at ratcheting up security after the deadly Madrid train bombings.

Included in the package are both symbolic and hard-headed moves to dampen public panic following Europe's worst terrorist attack since the 1988 Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.

The two-day European Union summit will create a new "security czar" to coordinate anti-terrorism policies in the soon-to-be 25 nation bloc.

Calls by smaller EU states such as Belgium and Austria for setting up a European version of the American CIA were rejected by larger nations Germany and Britain due to concerns over sharing sensitive intelligence.

Officials from Berlin and London said improved cooperation was required on measures already agreed by the EU.

"What we need here are coordinating measures - not new laws," said a senior German official speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The new security czar's task will be to sharpen observance of EU regulations for tougher border controls, laws aimed at choking off terrorist funds and bolstering anti-terror cooperation with foreign governments.

Leaders will sign a declaration of solidarity pledging automatic assistance - including military aid - to any member state attacked by terrorists.

They will also warn developing nations that aid and trade benefits with the EU could be lost is they do not cooperate in the war on terrorism.

Seeking to move beyond reactive policies, summit leaders are due to underline the need to tackle "causes" of terrorism.

"We have to deal with terrorism at its roots and attack the root causes of evil," said French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin earlier this week.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer speaks of drying out the "breeding grounds" of
terrorism.

Under this view held by many EU states, solutions must be found for key global crises including the Arab-Israeli conflict and moves to speed up transfer of power to a sovereign Iraqi government.

But there are fears that Middle East violence is lurching out of control after this week's assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin by Israel and veiled threats that other Palestinian leaders could also be liquidated.

On a more domestic agenda, leaders will discuss the improving prospects for winning agreement on a new EU constitution.

Negotiations for a constitutional treaty collapsed last December after a bitter dispute over power-sharing pitting Germany and France against Spain and Poland.

Following the recent surprise election defeat of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's party, the incoming Spanish government has signalled it wants to cut a deal on the constitution.

Poland this week also said it now wanted a compromise.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, says agreement on the treaty could be hammered out by June.

However, with the caretaker Spanish premier Aznar attending the summit, German officials stressed there would be no immediate progress at the meeting which wraps up Friday.

The official also noted that a series of issues needed to be resolved in addition to tangled question of voting clout.

These include: which issues are to be decided by majority voting as opposed to unanimity; the British budget rebate; the size of the European Commission; a mention of God in the future constitution as demanded by some southern European states; and demands by small states such as Portugal for a clause cementing equality with big members.

The 25 to 26 March summit marks the end of an era for an EU currently with 15 member states - all of which are western European.

Ten new states, many of which are from the former East Bloc, will be admitted to the EU on 1 May in a big bang enlargement.

The future members are: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta.

DPA
Subject: German news 

 

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