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Wednesday, 19 September, 2001, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
EU acts on terrorism
European leaders, including Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission (2nd from the left)
The EU wants there to be a co-ordinated response
By Colin Blane in Brussels

The European Commission has put forward a package of anti-terrorism measures, including a European arrest warrant which it hopes will be taken up by member states.

The proposal is part of the drive to improve security following last week's atrocities in the United States.

The European Union has been planning better anti-terrorist measures for some time.

But last week's attacks in Washington and New York have changed everything.

The package put forward by the Commission should make it much more difficult for organised groups to avoid extradition from one EU country to another.

Common definition

The idea is that all 15 member states will agree a common definition of terrorism and common penalties for such crimes.

Police at the Duomo in Milan
More police are on the streets of Europe following the attack
Then, they will bring in a common European arrest warrant which would apply across the European Union.

So if one country issues such a warrant for terrorist crimes, the 14 other member states would respect it.

At the moment, nine of the 15 member states do not have any legislation on terrorism.

The planned European arrest warrant would also cover other cross-border activities like drug smuggling and people trafficking.

The package has been presented to the European Parliament and will be discussed by justice ministers and EU heads of government over the next few days.

The proposals will then form part of the agenda at an emergency summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Friday.

The BBC's Shirin Wheeler
"Common rules on tackling terrorism will need political blessing from EU leaders"
See also:

18 Sep 01 | Europe
Europe tightens security
17 Sep 01 | Europe
EU weighs response to US strikes
15 Sep 01 | Europe
Europe hunts for US clues
15 Sep 01 | Americas
Worldwide hunt for hijack plotters
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