26 March 2004
BRUSSELS – In a widely predicted move, EU leaders meeting in Brussels have appointed a former Dutch Minister to co-ordinate the Union’s fight against terrorism.
Union leaders chose Gijs de Vries, a former deputy interior minister in the Netherlands, to take up the new post that has already been christened ‘Mr Terrorism’.
De Vries has been tasked with co-ordinating national strategies to tackle terrorism currently in place in the EU’s 15 member countries. His job will become even more complicated in May this year when 10 new states join the Union.
The decision to appoint a terrorism co-ordinator is seen by many analysts as a compromise move. Several EU member states, in particular Belgium and Austria, had wanted to go even further and set up an EU-wide intelligence agency similar to the CIA in the United States.
But that plan was vetoed by other EU countries that were worried that such an agency could have compromised national security measures.
EU leaders also agreed at the Brussels meeting to re-start negotiations aimed at putting in place a new European constitution.
Talks on the issue broke down last December when Spain and Poland refused to accept the plan.
But the newly elected Spanish government has said it will back the constitution and Warsaw has also made it clear it is willing to budge on the issue.
EU leaders hope the new constitution can now be adopted in June this year.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Belgian news