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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 July, 2004, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
Call for EU anti-terror crackdown
David Blunkett
David Blunkett hopes the informal meeting will aid cooperation
Europe must radically harmonise police forces and border control measures to beat international terrorism, a UK summit of Euro ministers has agreed.

Ministers from five EU nations called for better co-ordination of legal systems, DNA records, travel documents and residence permits.

They pledged to boost the funds and technology of European agency Interpol.

The second day of the talks organised by Home Secretary David Blunkett were at Hassop Hall, Derbyshire.

I believe that the main instrument in the fight should be Europol, which we have to revive as a strategic body
Giuseppe Pisanu
Italian minister
Ministers said there had been agreement that, in some cases, freedom of association may have to be restricted to combat fundamentalism, an announcement which is likely to shock some of Europe's Muslim communities.

The ministers also agreed separate national police forces must work more closely together.

Ideas taken from the two-day informal meeting will be presented to a 19 July meeting of all 25 home affairs and justice ministers.

'Europe-wide capacity'

Spain's Jose Antonio Alonso said the five ministers had reached agreement on prioritising facial recognition and fingerprint software in future electronic identity documents.

Mr Alonso said the ministers' main concern had been "formalising Europe-wide capacity".

He said: "The G5 have indicated to provide the necessary resources to Europol IT support and resources by the end of 2004.

"It needs to be up to the task that we need it to carry out."

Better control of traffic in explosives was also required, he added.

He also spoke of the need to build co-operation with Arab countries and Muslim communities within the EU nations.

Italy's Giuseppe Pisanu said Europol should be the "main instrument in the fight".

No mention was made at the meeting of using Iris scans, which are currently being trialled by the Home Office in a pilot of 10,000 volunteers.

Low profile

The interior ministers making the visit included Dominique de Villepin from France, Germany's Otto Schily, Giuseppe Pisanu from Italy and Spain's Jose Antonio Alonso.

On Monday, they held talks in Sheffield followed by an official dinner at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.

Spanish Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso
Spain's Jose Antonio Alonso was among those invited to Sheffield

Europol, based in the Hague, is the body nominally responsible for leading Europe's counter-terrorism strategy. But it has only 500 staff and keeps a relatively low profile, BBC home affairs correspondent Andy Tighe said.

He said moves towards greater co-operation between individual police forces across the EU had been slow despite the warning posed by the Madrid bombings in March.

Our correspondent said the UK was a world leader in certain areas, such as the creation of a DNA database, but it could be difficult to persuade other countries to follow suit.

"Ministers will have to overcome traditional national self-interest as well as bureaucratic hostility if they are to develop a truly multinational approach to fighting terrorism," he said.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We have a national DNA database in the UK but some countries do not have one.




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