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Analysis: EU acting on terror pledge

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ETA has been blamed for attacks in which more than 800 have died  


By CNN European Political Editor Robin Oakley

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Countries like Spain and the UK knew before September 11 what it was to suffer death by terrorism.

Now the European Union has identified more closely than ever before with their fight against political extremists prepared to use violence to further their causes.

Fulfilling its promise soon after September 11 to step up its actions against international terrorism, the EU has included in a list of targeted terrorists including international groups like the Palestinian Islamic Jihad the Basque separatist group ETA, which has killed more than 800 people in 33 years.

All the groups will face co-ordinated action by European police forces and the freezing of their assets across the 15 EU member states.

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Targeted too are Northern Ireland terrorists like the Republican group calling itself the Real IRA, responsible for a number of bombings in England and Northern Ireland, and Protestant extremists there like the Loyalist Volunteer Force, the Ulster Defence Association and the Red Hand Defenders.

Others on the EU list include the Greek November 17 organisation, believed to be responsible for the killing of a UK diplomat in June 2000.

The Spanish government, which takes over the six month rotating presidency of the European Union on January 1, has welcomed the EU's new list of targeted organisations and individuals, not all of whom are being named publicly as concerted police and intelligence investigations continue.

From Robin Oakley
More analysis by CNN's European Political Editor
 

Cabinet minister and government spokesman Pio Cabanillas told CNN: "It's a great step forward. First of all we had to agree on a common definition of terrorism. That happened a couple of weeks ago.

"Next we had to agree on a list of those terrorist groups and not just the killers.There are also those that support them politically, those that support them financially or support them logistically. That's exactly what has happened and that's a fantastic basis to develop legislation to confront this horrible problem."

EU leaders have steadily stepped up their anti-terrorist measures, first of all issuing a list of organisations linked to al Qaeda whose assets would be frozen, then proposing widespread aircraft security measures.

At their most recent summit in Laeken, Belgium, they agreed on a Europe-wide arrest warrant to make easier the extradition of terrorist suspects from one country to another.

Jose Maria Aznar, Spain's prime minister, has promised to make the fight against terrorism the main focus of his six months in the European chair.

The European Union moves by consensus and does not always seem to outsiders to be the swiftest-moving organisation.

The list of terrorist organisations has had to be agreed by the judicial authorities of all 15 EU countries, and the Europe-wide arrest warrant has to be approved by most national parliaments before it comes into effect right across Europe.

But, by its own standards the EU has acted quickly in the second stage battle against worldwide terrorism.

And with a member country which has been one of the worst victims of the terrorists in recent years now taking over direction of the EU's affairs, it is clear that the fight will not slacken.



 
 
 
 


RELATED STORIES:
• EU to freeze terror groups' assets
October 16, 2001
• Europe unites against terrorism
September 20, 2001

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