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Monday, 22 October, 2001, 21:24 GMT 22:24 UK
Washington presses EU in terror war
Ghent 'family photo'
The US wants help from an increasingly divided Europe
A list of demands from the United States for improved co-operation with the European Union in fighting terrorism is under consideration in Brussels, officials have said.


The things that we are doing against terrorism... will simplify life for the Europeans and make it easier for us to co-operate with the United States

Leonello Gabrici, EC justice and home affairs spokesman

The 47 demands cover judicial and diplomatic co-operation, data protection, the proliferation of biological weapons and other issues.

They were delivered in a letter from US President George W Bush to European Commission President Romano Prodi and the Belgian Prime Minister and current European Council President, Guy Verhofstadt, following their visit to the US last month.

The plea for co-operation comes amid reports of friction between European and American investigators trying to track down terrorist suspects and US frustration at the lack of a cohesive EU response to the war on terror.

Problematic pleas

The US asks Europol to pass on to the United States "all information, including information about individuals, which it may have on terrorist cases and subsequently expand this co-operation to include criminal cases", Mr Bush says in his letter, as quoted by Belgian daily La Libre Belgique.

It also calls on EU member states to support the US in its "financial, economic and political isolation" of states which harbour terrorists.

Silvio Berlusconi
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was snubbed by the tripartite meeting

Extradition processes from the EU to America should also be streamlined, the letter requested.

This demand in particular has the potential to cause problems. Some member states of the EU - which is strongly opposed to the death penalty - refuse to extradite suspects to a country where they might face execution.

But many of the US demands are already part of European discussions on the response to terrorism, an EU official said.

"The things that we are doing against terrorism... will simplify life for the Europeans and make it easier for us to co-operate with the United States," said Leonello Gabrici, an EU spokesman on justice and home affairs.

At a meeting in Luxembourg last week, finance and justice ministers proposed tough measures to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Disagreements

The American pleas come against reports that US and European police officers and magistrates have been failing to share information.

Investigators in Germany have complained that FBI officers working there have been keeping witnesses to themselves, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Guy Verhofstadt
Romano Prodi complained that Guy Verhofstadt was longwinded

Meanwhile American officials in Belgium have not been given information about suspects arrested there, according to a New York Times report.

The inner friction between the EU member states is also proving problematic.

The US has so far given bilateral co-operation with individual nations preference over negotiations with the 15-member bloc.

Analysts say this reflects its impatience with the EU's internal squabbles which were made evident at last week's Ghent summit.

A pre-summit meeting between France, Germany and the UK caused fury among Spain, Italy and some of the smaller states who complained of being side-lined.

Further rifts have emerged between Belgium - which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency - and Mr Prodi.

Mr Prodi's spokesman said on Monday that he had decided not to take part in a joint press conference with Prime Minister Verhofstadt after Friday's summit as, he said, Mr Verhofstadt's long, bilingual declarations would not let Mr Prodi get a word in edgewise.

See also:

26 Jun 01 | Europe
Belgium's EU agenda
22 Oct 01 | Europe
Prodi seething after summit row
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