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Thursday, 4 October, 2001, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
EU to freeze terror assets
European Parliament building in Strasbourg
The European Parliament is moving with record speed
By the BBC's Shireen Wheeler in Strasbourg

Members of the European parliament have approved legislation which will allow the European Union to freeze the assets of 27 groups and individuals linked to terrorism.

While several EU states have already taken unilateral action to block terrorist accounts following the 11 September attacks on the US, the regulation will make it mandatory in all 15 countries of the European Union.

According to the European Commission, more than $90m worth of terrorist assets have already been frozen in Britain, France and Germany alone.

The EU-wide financial freeze will still require the approval of EU governments, as well as the European Parliament.

Ignoring local problems

Swiss public prosecutor Bernard Bertossa
A Swiss public prosecutor has led calls for more powers

The proposals were passed by a clear 417 votes to 18, but some MEPs were worried that in adopting the list of groups targeted last week by the US administration, the EU was ignoring the terrorist problem on its own doorstep.

Members of the European Parliament's Justice and Home Affairs Committee say that groups like the Real IRA and ETA, which operates in Spain's Basque region, should also be included.

MEPs have included a provision to review the emergency legislation to ensure the right people are being targeted, and that in future more groups could be added to the list.

It also includes a clause which will automatically cancel the measure at the end of 2003.

If the measures are approved next week by foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg, it will be the only piece of legislation ever to go through the entire EU law-making process in less than a week.

See also:

28 Sep 01 | Business
Net closes on terror cash
24 Sep 01 | Americas
Bush calls halt to terror funding
24 Sep 01 | Business
Will Bush's asset freeze work?
19 Sep 01 | Business
Following the money trail
18 Sep 01 | Business
Bin Laden 'share gains' probe
23 Sep 01 | Business
Sanctions boost for Pakistan economy
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