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EU finalises anti-terror plans



BRUSSELS, Belgium -- European Union justice and interior ministers have met to negotiate outstanding issues on ambitious anti-terrorism plans drawn up in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

In final preparatory talks before a December 6-7 session at which the measures are expected to be adopted, the ministers met on Friday to discuss proposals to replace lengthy extradition procedures between member states with a Europe-wide search-and-arrest warrant.

They also discussed an EU definition of terrorism and the length of jail terms for acts of terrorism.

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"There is a chance we might have a deal on the warrant," one diplomat told Reuters, adding that officials had done the ground work for the justice ministers.

However, other diplomats doubted the ministers would reach agreement .

A stumbling point is that Germany and other member states have problems with the scope of the warrant, as well as with the common jail terms.

Last month, EU finance, justice and transport ministers endorsed measures to combat global terrorism, including a move to apply money-laundering rules to various serious crimes.

Since September 11, officials from member states have been meeting weekly in Brussels to negotiate compromise proposals drafted by current EU president Belgium.

Under the proposals, the EU would adopt a so-called "positive list" of all the crimes to which the warrant would apply.

The proposed offences range from murder and rape to membership of a criminal organisation and offences on which the EU shares a common definition.

The proposals also set a time limit of 60 days for the transfer of a suspect from one member state to another, which in some cases could be extended to 90 days.

Belgium has -- on the basis of original European Commission proposals -- also drafted a compromise on the definition of terrorism.

"It is a definition close to the one currently being drafted by the United Nations," a diplomat said.

The definition describes terrorism as different criminal acts committed with the intent to seriously intimidate the public, to force an authority, state or international organisation to act or to destroy structures of a state, society or international organisation.

Friday's meeting came a day after European Commission President Romano Prodi said pan-European measures taken in the war against terror proved the EU can unite on the world stage.

Prodi, speaking in London ahead of a meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair, said that while individual states had taken decisions about military action, the EU had been able to act collectively on a raft of related issues such as money laundering.



 
 
 
 


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