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Friday, 16 November, 2001, 17:26 GMT
Agreement on EU-wide arrest warrants
Remains of Twin Towers after the terror attacks
There has been a Europe-wide commitment to fight terror since the US attacks
Plans to introduce a Europe-wide arrest warrant in the wake of the US terror attacks have moved a step closer with the hammering out of an outline agreement by EU ministers.

Home Secretary David Blunkett joined his European counterparts for the talks in which they agreed to sweep away lengthy extradition procedures in suspected terrorist cases.

UK Home Secretary David Blunkett
David Blunkett: "Impatient for progress"
The arrest warrant could also be employed in cases of serious crime.

The deal will be officially confirmed next month but it is thought that EU states would have to hand over a detained suspect within 60 days of receiving an arrest warrant from another member state.

Differences are believed to remain over the length of sentences for terrorism and other serious offences.

Ahead of the meeting Mr Blunkett was said to be "impatient for progress" on the European front.

European member states must have confidence in each other's judicial systems

Home Secretary David Blunkett

Afterwards he made it clear that he would like to see a "mutual recognition" of EU states' judicial systems without limits.

"European member states must have confidence in each other's judicial systems," said Mr Blunkett.

Ministers managed to agree that certain categories of people would not be come under the auspices of the arrest warrant - that included anti-globalisation protesters.

And Mr Blunkett said he could live with the agreement.

Technical problems

There has already been a European-wide commitment to a united front against terrorism, following the 11 September attacks.

Last month, members of the European parliament approved legislation allowing the EU to freeze the assets of 27 groups and individuals linked to terrorism.

They have also announced a crackdown on money laundering.

Detention without trial

The UK has drawn up its own new plans for dealing with terrorism.

The Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill, published by the government on Tuesday, outlines a number of measures, including the right to detain without trial foreign national terrorist suspects.

New powers aimed at stopping terrorists from using bureaux de change for money laundering came into force on Monday.

See also:

16 Oct 01 | Europe
EU combats terror funding
19 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Blair welcomes EU anti-terror support
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