Europe unites on security

26-03-2004

EU leaders met in Brussels this week and decided on a range of security measures including appointing a counter-terrorism co-ordinator, strengthening border controls, sharing data and setting a deadline for implementing anti-terror legislation already agreed, like the common European arrest warrant. In fact this was an EU summit of co-operation - in total contrast with the previous one in December last year, which saw Europe, divided over voting rights in the new constitution. Gyorgi Tocsis is correspondent for the Hungarian weekly magazine HVG - Weekly World Economy - Kerry Skyring asked her whether Hungary and the other Central European states are ready to implement the new anti-terror measures.

EU summit in Brussels, photo: CTKEU summit in Brussels, photo: CTK "They don't have a choice even if they did not want to implement these measures because they are going to be part of Europe from the 1st of May so legally they are obliged to implement all of the decisions that the EU makes. And also I think it is in their self-interest to be part of the co-operation because they need the protection. None of us in Central and Eastern Europe, except maybe for Poland, are very big countries that can protect themselves on their own."

Is the mood completely different at this summit - is this a mood of co-operation with Europe shaken up by the Madrid terrorist attacks?

"Well yes. I don't want to be a Euro sceptic but it's true and it's political reality that here in Brussels we very often hear at the summits from politicians that from now on we really are going to co-operate and we are going to be very active. And then we have to see on the ground what is really happening and particularly I think in this case regarding terrorism it's not so easy because it doesn't only depend on what can be done at EU level regarding legislation, common legislation and implementing common legislation, that's very important, but the co-operation of intelligence forces, police, judicial forces - it's them who have to do the daily work and that's not so easy because of the notion of national sovereignty and certain reluctance on sharing their information."

Commemorating victims of the Madrid bomb blasts, photo: CTKCommemorating victims of the Madrid bomb blasts, photo: CTK There appears to have been progress as well on agreeing on the European Union constitution and the Irish Presidency says they hope to have this wrapped up by June. So have the Madrid terrorist bombings also pushed, or shocked, Europe into co-operating on issues like the constitution where they previously could not reach agreement?

"Yes very much. I think this is very significant. Some of us where making ironic jokes here in Brussels last night that the big persons in the European Union are not only Robert Schumann and Jean Monet but also Osama bin Laden because he was also able to unite European leaders again in a sense that a year ago they were all falling apart because of the Iraq war and now it seems there is the will to agree on the constitution."

From your perspective in Brussels, who's given ground, who has made some compromises?

"Well I think, naturally enough, the biggest has come from Spain. The new Spanish government seems to be much more flexible, they announced almost from the first moment that they have a different view. And since the Spanish and the Polish were very much united against most of the others - there is a will for everyone to show they are willing to compromise."

26-03-2004

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