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Monday, 10 December, 2001, 19:14 GMT
Terror tops Spanish agenda
Jose Maria Aznar
Aznar is pushing for tough EU anti-terror measures
Anti-terrorism measures are to top Spain's agenda for the country's six-month presidency of the European Union.

"The struggle against terrorism has become the main priority of the European Union and it will be the first priority of Spain as holder of the presidency," said Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, presenting his plans to the country's congress.

Spain's priorities
Fight against terrorism
Introduction of the euro
Economic and social reform
Enlargement
Common security and defence
Future of an enlarged Europe
Spain takes over the rotating presidency when Belgium ends its stint on 1 January.

Mr Aznar summed up his country's presidential programme with the slogan, "More Europe".

The other issues to top his list were the perennials of the euro, enlargement and debate on the future of Europe.

Terrorism

Spain, which has suffered at the hands of the Basque separatist group ETA for several decades, is one of the strongest proponents of tough and far-reaching EU measures to combat terrorism.


I want to advance as far as possible on a series of different fronts in Europe, starting with the creation of a common area for police, security and judicial forces

Jose Maria Aznar
"I have always felt the worse thing that can happen is that a terrorist has a sense of impunity. If he thinks he can get away with it, that means he is winning," said Mr Aznar in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

The EU is due to approve a wide range of anti-terror measures at its Laeken summit, including a the introduction of a pan-European arrest warrant.

"I want to advance as far as possible on a series of different fronts in Europe, starting with the creation of a common area for police, security and judicial forces," Mr Aznar said.

Euro and enlargement

The success of the transfer to the single currency across the 12 eurozone countries on 1 January will also be a key test for Spain.

George Bush and Jose Maria Aznar
Mr Aznar emphasised his strong relationship with the US
Mr Aznar described it as "an opportunity to demonstrate the proximity of the European Union to its citizens".

Spain will also play a crucial role in steering the final stages of membership negotiations with the 12 candidate countries, which are due to be completed by the end of 2002.

Mr Aznar's priorities also include economic and social reform and integration, covering the areas of transport, energy, financial and labour markets and education systems.

The ongoing debate on the future of Europe will also continue under the Spanish presidency though Mr Aznar warned at the weekend that the debate on institutional reform "runs the risk of becoming an exercise in futility".

He called for a "progressive constitutionalisation of the treaties" including the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Despite Mr Aznar's "More Europe" slogan, he has also emphasised his country's strong relationship with the United States, describing Spain as "a bridge between Europe and America".

See also:

10 Dec 01 | Europe
EU fights to save defence deal
08 Dec 01 | Europe
Italy heads for EU showdown
26 Jun 01 | Europe
Belgium's EU agenda
09 Nov 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Spain
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