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Wednesday, 2 January, 2002, 08:38 GMT
Is crime winning across Europe?
The EU this week beefed up its anti-terrorism policies by agreeing a common definition and minimum penalties for terrorism and signed a deal to speed up police cooperation with the US.

But a row between Italy and other EU states has prevented agreement on a Europe-wide arrest warrant, one of several measures intended to help fight terrorism throughout Europe.

The warrant is a keystone of the EU's anti-terror measures aimed at rushing through extradition orders and overcoming the cumbersome bureaucracy which often delays cross-border cases.

The affair has become an embarrassment for the EU, which was keen to show it could move quickly to address an increased terrorist threat.

Supporters of stronger measures say that in general criminals are in the ascendancy in Europe and that they can cross borders where the judiciary cannot detect their activities.

Is crime winning across Europe? Will the new cross-border measures be effective in combating crime?

Europe Today's Mark Reid brought together two members of the European Parliament, Per Gahrton of the Swedish Green Party and the British Labour MEP Robert Evans, the vice-chair of the Parliament's Home Affairs Committee, to discuss this issue.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

I find it interesting that Europe has broad limits on the private possession of firearms while crime is rampant. In the US, states that allow concealed firearms carried by responsible citizens have lower than average crime rates. The EU should institute a version of our Second Amendment.
Howard, USA

Europe is only as safe as the efforts put in to police it

Dave, Brussels
Brussels, the capital of Europe, feels like one of the most unsafe cities I have ever lived in. It is a regular occurrence to have your car or house broken into and there is a rise in more aggressive crime such as car jacking or the raiding of houses with occupants in them. Things are so bad for security wagons, that all transportation of money in Belgium is escorted by heavily armed police. I think Europe is only as safe as the efforts put in to police it...
Dave, Brussels

This is only the latest of various ways in which the Berlusconi government has discredited my country of origin. The Italian government's decisions are systematically taken in the PM's personal interests, rather than the country's. In the long run this "policy" can only have a deeply negative effect for Italy and consequently the EU.
Giulio Niccolai, UK

The ever increasing integration of Europe calls for an integrated response to crime

Jeroen, Netherlands/USA
I don't know if crime is on the rise in Europe as a whole, but I am certain the ever increasing integration of Europe calls for an integrated response to crime. Italy's position on the EU-wide arrest-warrant is laughable. It is madness to create a zone where borders are ever fading while the borders for the exchange of criminals remain. This is something that should not have needed the terrorist attacks in the US to prompt action, it is an essential and integral part of the development of the EU.
Jeroen, Netherlands/USA

All member states should impose judicial cooperation on Italy. The European Union is not just a common market, hence the warrant and the other measures are necessary. At the same time MEPs should be very attentive to how liberties and rights of European citizens would be affected by new laws against terrorism. Moreover cooperation with the US police must mean cooperation, and not an invitation to the US police to come over to Europe and do whatever they want. Who knows if all these measures will be effective, but I am sure they are necessary.
Francesco, Italy

Another unnecessary bureaucratic response

Stephen, USA
A Europe-wide arrest warrant is another unnecessary bureaucratic response that will do little to reduce organized crime or terrorism. But it will be of great help to the cause of a European super-state becoming reality. I wouldn't be surprised to see the warrant adding even more red tape bureaucracy to the task of fighting crime.
Stephen, USA

With politicians like Berlusconi in charge of Italy, crime will win. Justice is not matter of fashion, opinions or anything else. Fiscal frauds, money laundering, bribing and corruption all put democracy and free markets in a sorry state, at best.
Eugenio Antonielli, UK

The less genetically homogeneous the society, the more crime you will have and this will come from the undetectable areas of the populace. Crime has gained the upper hand in the US and you don't want to end up having a situation on your hands like we do.
Andrew Smyth, USA

Listen now
to both sides of the debate
See also:

03 Dec 01 | Europe
EU to push through terror laws
16 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Agreement on EU-wide arrest warrants
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