Emergency Meeting of the EU's Justice and Home Affairs Minsters Council to be held

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updated: 15.3.04: An emergency meeting of the EU's Justice and Home Affairs Ministers Council will be held on Friday 19 March in Brussels (the last emergency meeting was held on 20 September 2001). It will precede the EU Summit (meeting of Prime Ministers) in Brussels on 25-26 March.

It is being suggested that new anti-terrorist measures may include a stricter EU-wide definition of terrorism: Full-text Framework Decision on combating terrorism (adopted 13 June 2002). Commission sources also suggest that pressure will be brought to bear on the five EU states (out of 15) who have yet to implement the European Arrest Warrant. This applies to crime in general rather than being a targeted anti-terrorist measure though it would affect a number of instances concerning alleged terrorist suspects where, under the old rules, the UK refused to extradite people for lack of evidence.

The Belgian Prime minister, Guy Verhofstadt, has written to the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, calling for four new measures at the EU level: 1. The creation of an EU intelligence agency bringing together member states' police, intelligence and security agencies together with Europol. 2. Changing the law so that security agencies can cooperate across borders. 3. A new focus on arms trafficking and the "finance of extremist groups". 4. Better use of existing resources such as using the Schengen Information System to exchange intelligence.

Also on the table is the idea put forward by Javier Solana, the EU's security and defence chief, that a "special envoy" dedicated to counter-terrorism should be appointed.

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