Statewatch News Online: G6 - Home Office press release

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G6 meeting in Stratford upon Avon, UK - all spin no Conclusions

The UK Home Office has put out a press release on the G6 meeting in the UK last week - Meeting of the interior ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"All the Home Office has made available is spin - not a set of proper Conclusions as were released after the G6 meeting in Germany in March 2006"

Background: For background see: G5 Group on Interior Ministers becomes G6: Meeting of the Interior Ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom, Heiligendamm, 22 and 23 March 2006 - Full-text of Conclusions

Statewatch: G6-G8-Prum: Behind closed doors - policy-making in secret intergovernmental and international fora and
"Behind Closed Doors: the meeting of the G6 Interior Ministers at Heiligendamm": House of Lords EU Committee report.

Home Office press release:

Call to action at G6 meeting
26 October 2006

The interior ministers of six European nations met in Britain this week and agreed to innovative and immediate actions to tackle terrorism and organised crime.

The meeting in Stratford-upon-Avon, hosted by the Home Secretary, John Reid, brought together the interior ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK - known collectively as the 'G6' - to develop concrete plans on quick and effective methods to make their countries safer.

The meeting addressed complex issues, and resulted in widespread agreement on methods for tackling terrorism, immigration, smuggling and organised crime. The ministers also exchanged information on known terrorist suspects, and worked on the idea of creating joint support teams, should any of the nations face a serious terrorist attack.

Fighting terrorism together

The ministers agreed that all six countries should not only have their own anti-terrorism plans, but that they should also prepare joint responses. Crucially, they've all agreed to work even more closely together to stop terror attacks from happening in the first place.

Among counter-terrorism methods discussed, the ministers agreed to share their individual research on explosives, with a particular focus on liquid explosives, now considered to be a major new threat from terror groups.

Dr Reid said, 'This is a developing area where the terrorists are trying to get ahead of us, and we have to get ahead of them.'

He said the number of serious plots in Britain 'numbered in the tens, rather than the twos', and he repeated recent warnings that another attack on the UK was 'very likely'. He said many terror groups used websites to organise their attacks so decisions made by the G6 would help combat internet terror traffic. 'We have to do much more together to make the internet a hostile environment to the terrorist,' he added.

Among other things, the ministers agreed to:

work together to identify threats and recommend responses

cooperate on monitoring internet websites used by terror groups - particularly supporting Germany's 'check the web' project
share research on explosives

offer high levels of security in their respective airports

conduct research into more high-tech airport screening devices to keep travel safe

Fighting organised crime

The G6 ministers agreed that the battle against organised crime is a serious priority throughout Europe. Major crime groups are known to be smuggling people, drugs, and weapons, and all six countries view that as a significant threat to all nations. Because this kind of crime ignores borders, countries must work together to combat it.

They agreed to build a practical, cross-European plan to tackle so-called 'carousel fraud', which involves VAT scans on an international level, and is thought to cost the UK approximately £2bn each year. The Home Secretary said it was possible that such sophisticated methods of fraud were being used to raise money for terrorist groups.

'Today was the first step in getting further information and cooperation on investigating this across Europe,' he said.

The project to tackle people smuggling will be based on Operation Pentameter, which involved all 55 police forces in the UK and Ireland in an effort to disrupt the trafficking of women, often held against their will, for the black market sex industry. The operation earlier this year resulted in 232 arrests for crimes including rape, assault, trafficking and false imprisonment.

Dr Reid called human trafficking 'the sort of crime that I believe is a stain on a civilised country.' And added, 'It is a relatively recent phenomenon, and a fast-growing crime, so we need to re-double our efforts and dedicate ourselves to combating it.'

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