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Tuesday, 12 March, 2002, 20:11 GMT
Spain tightens security for summit protests
Mounted police patrol Barcelona ahead of summit
Security measures include mounted police patrols
test hello test
By Flora Botsford
BBC Madrid Correspondent

The Spanish Government has temporarily suspended the free movement of European Union citizens in order to prevent an expected influx of thousands of anti-globalisation protesters to coincide with a big EU summit in Barcelona later this week.

People travelling into Spain from France are having their passports checked for the first time since the Schengen Agreement - which makes this unnecessary - came into force in 1995.

Many other special restrictions have also been introduced.

Mark Covell injured during police raid on protesters' centre in Genoa
Hundreds of protesters were wounded in Genoa
Thousands of extra police have already been out on the streets of Barcelona.

Helicopters and horse-mounted patrols have been circling the restricted zone around the conference centre where, from Thursday evening, European Union leaders will gather for their summit.

Sniffer dogs have been searching for explosives amid fears that the Basque separatist group ETA could try to target the meeting as a publicity stunt, or worse.

Test case

But the biggest headache for the Spanish authorities is the expected arrival of tens of thousands of anti-globalisation protesters who regularly use such international meetings as a platform for their alternative message on how they think the world economy should be managed.

It is for this reason that the Spanish Government says it is temporarily suspending Schengen, the agreement by which citizens from the majority of EU countries can travel freely within the union without having to show their passports.

A protester throws a chair onto a barricade in Genoa
Riots marred the G8 summit
People crossing the French border into Spain are being stopped for passport checks, and air travellers also face new restrictions.

In many ways, Barcelona will be a test case for European security officials after the disastrous events of the G7 summit in Genoa last year.

One anti-globalisation protester was killed by Italian police outside the summit and hundreds were injured.

A big demonstration against the World Bank in Barcelona last June was dramatically ended by riot officers firing rubber bullets and teargas, amid claims that police tactics were heavy-handed and indiscriminate.

With the special security measures in place, and the extra police being deployed in Barcelona, it seems the Spanish Government will not be taking any chances with its official guests.

See also:

15 Dec 01 | Europe
New protests mar EU summit
03 Feb 02 | Americas
Counter-summit focuses on poor
03 Feb 02 | Business
Global economy 'recovering'
21 Jul 01 | Europe
Who are the Genoa protesters?
22 Jul 01 | Europe
Genoa counts the cost
22 Jul 01 | Europe
Summits must continue - Blair
22 Jul 01 | Europe
Eyewitness: Genoa police raid
21 Jul 01 | Europe
Protest death divides Genoese
22 Jul 01 | Business
G8 extols globalisation
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