[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 August 2006, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
Europe faces 'very real threat'
John Reid
Mr Reid said militants were abusing Europe's open societies
UK Home Secretary John Reid has said Europe faces a "persistent and very real" threat from terrorism, after a meeting with EU counterparts in London.

But he said the presence of five other interior ministers and top EU officials symbolised Europe's determination to stand together and defend their values.

Finland, holder of the EU presidency, congratulated the UK on pre-empting an apparent plot to bomb US-bound planes.

Twenty-four people are now in custody in the UK over the alleged plot.

Mr Reid said the European Union needed to develop its counter-terror policies in response to the evolving threat.

He said the talks had discussed practical measures in four areas:

  • Tackling liquid explosives
  • Co-ordination of transport security
  • Exchange of intelligence
  • The nature of European Islam

The world was faced by a form of "intolerant and violent totalitarianism", he added, which was subverting a religion, Islam, whose very name stood for peace.

Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini said he would be presenting concrete proposals on detection of liquid explosives to a forthcoming meeting of all EU interior ministers in Finland.

He also called for a crackdown on internet sites used to incite terrorism.

Veto move

The 7 July bombings in London last year pushed counter-terrorism up the EU agenda, and helped former Home Secretary Charles Clarke clinch a deal to force companies to retain telephone and e-mail data for use in investigations.

We came to the conclusion that a united Europe will win the battle with the terrorists
Finnish Interior Minister Kari Rajamaeki

The European Commission is currently trying to persuade governments to give up their veto powers in the area of criminal justice, arguing that it will help the anti-terrorism effort.

The London meeting was attended by Finnish Interior Minister Kari Rajamaki, whose country holds the EU presidency, and ministers from France, Germany, Portugal and Slovenia, which hold the presidency in 2007 and 2008.

"That is important because the threat is an enduring threat and will require therefore an enduring response," Mr Reid said.

Europe was up against people who were abusing its open society and its freedoms and adapting the latest technology to their "evil intent", he said.

Mr Rajamaeki said the UK had the "solidarity and support" of the whole European Union.

He added: "We came to the conclusion that a united Europe will win the battle with the terrorists."

A meeting of European aviation security and counter-terrorism experts which was due to have been held later in the week has been postponed.

The UK security threat level was raised to "critical" last week amid fears of the plot. On Monday it was downgraded to "severe", meaning an attack is now considered highly likely but not imminent.

John Reid on the European terror threat

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific