Largest EU states meet for security talks

25th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON, England, Oct 25, 2006 (AFP) - Ministers from France, Britain Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain arrived on Wednesday for behind-closed-door talks on combating extremism and preventing terror attacks.

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON, England, Oct 25, 2006 (AFP) - Ministers from France, Britain Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain arrived on Wednesday for behind-closed-door talks on combating extremism and preventing terror attacks.

The so-called G6 are due to spend two days at a sprawling country hotel near the birthplace of England's most famous dramatist, William Shakespeare, for timely and wide-ranging discussions on threats to European Union security.

Talks will touch on encouraging dialogue with Muslim communities, amid an ongoing debate in France, Britain and across the EU about integration, plus efforts to stamp out illegal immigration routes and combat organised crime.

Britain and Spain have both been rocked by bomb attacks in the last two years while the hosts are embroiled in a row about integration, sparked by a senior minister's comments on the wearing of the full-face Muslim veil.

Counter-terrorism officials also assessed recently that Britain is now Al-Qaeda's top target.

The G6 -- launched in 2003 by London and Paris -- has no formal decision-making powers and according to Britain's Home Office aims to "boost activity and co-operation, which can then be taken forward at full EU level".

But despite claims from the group that its meetings are transparent, some European lawmakers have expressed fears it is unaccountable and has too much influence in forging security policy in the 25-member bloc.

Sarah Ludford, a British Liberal Democrat member of the European Parliament and her party's spokeswoman on European justice, said: "De facto, I think they are making decisions.

"It's a shorthand way of arriving eventually at EU legislation."

After the last G6 meeting at the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm, Germany, in March, the EU Committee of Britain's upper chamber the House of Lords called for less secrecy.

The public had a right to know about its discussions, they added, accusing them of trying to "ride roughshod" over the 19 smaller EU states.

Other analysts have suggested that there is nothing unusual in the talks.

"Governments have been cooperating in Europe on internal security since 1923, when Interpol was founded, and it's always been secret," Hugo Brady, a research fellow with the British-based Centre for European Reform, told AFP.

The G6 ministers, including British Home Secretary John Reid, are to hold a news conference on Thursday, while Reid's department said it will publish the results of the talks on its website.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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