Spidla proposes "pan-European fire brigade" to deal with terrorist attack

26-03-2004

European Union leaders are gathering in Brussels for a summit dominated by three main issues: turning the EU into the world's most competitive economy, restarting the stalled talks on a European Constitution, and the fight against terrorism. Leaders of the 10 countries which join the EU on May 1st - the Czech Republic among them - are also attending the talks. Radio Prague's Alexis Rosenzweig is in Brussels; we spoke to him earlier.

Summit in Brussels (Vladimir Spidla on the right), photo: CTKSummit in Brussels (Vladimir Spidla on the right), photo: CTK "The general atmosphere has been very optimistic so far. What we can say is that the attacks of Madrid on March 11th have turned all the attention to the terrorist threat. Leaders of the European Union are unanimous on one main goal, which is to fight terrorism and of course to improve the security of their citizens."

Has that sense of optimism also spread to making progress on the European Constitution? After all, the last EU summit ended in absolute failure in agreeing on a constitution.

"Yes. The mood has also definitely changed. The Irish Prime Minister did not hide his satisfaction that the 25 EU members could come to an agreement. The text prepared by the Convention on the Future of Europe of former French President Giscard d'Estaing could be signed by the end of June if everything is all right. What we can add is that the defeat of Jose Maria Aznar in the recent Spanish elections has added to the optimism, because Spain, along with Poland, was one of the countries who showed the most opposition to the constitution, and the Polish prime minister added that he could be ready to make some concessions."

As you said earlier, this summit is being dominated by terrorism, especially in the wake of the attacks in Madrid. The Czech prime minister, Vladimir Spidla, has come up with his own proposal to fight terrorism - he's called for a rapid reaction brigade of European firemen to deal with major terrorist attacks. Tell me more about that.

"Prime Minister Spidla proposes closer co-operation in the future between firemen of the 25 countries. He says the idea came into his mind during the 2002 floods, which devastated the country and the capital Prague. At this moment he felt that the Czech firemen would have welcomed some more help from their neighbours. So this proposal, which was made informally at the summit, has already been welcomed by some countries, especially by Denmark. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen says it would be good to work on this as quickly as possible."

26-03-2004

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