Gijs de Vries start volgende week als EU-coördinator voor terreurbestrijding (en)
Auteur: Sharon Spiteri
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Despite signing up to an anti-terror declaration and agreeing that an anti-terror co-ordinator should begin work next week, questions still remain about how quickly member states will implement key legislation in the area.
EU leaders on Thursday (25 March) signed up to a declaration on combating terrorism, in which they pledge to "implement fully and without delay" a raft of measures by "no later than June 2004".
However some measures will still be delayed until next year.
Current EU President and Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern admitted that in some countries the implementation of the European Arrest Warrant, which was supposed to enter into force in all EU countries in January this year, could be delayed until the beginning of 2005.
It is also not an area where the European Commission can push for action as it lies outside its competence.
"It is not an area in which the Commission has the competence" to act against Member States, said Commission President Romano Prodi.
The Madrid attacks of 11 March, which sent shock waves around Europe, highlighted the urgency for EU states to implement counter-terrorism measures some of which were agreed two years ago.
"Shortcomings and delays are unforgivable now after that attack in Madrid", said Mr Prodi on Thursday at the EU summit in Brussels.
He was backed up by the Irish Presidency. "After Madrid there is a need to review what we are doing and give a political impulse to pushing this work forward", said Mr Ahern. "We have to set hard dates".
The Madrid attacks have also put emphasis on the need to have more efficient intelligence cooperation between Member States, although the idea of a European CIA "is not being envisaged", Mr Ahern said.
Anti-terror Tsar to start next week
To improve coordination between EU states in the fight against terrorism, a counter-terrorism coordinator, dubbed as the "anti-terrror Tsar", has been appointed by the EU leaders, who will work within the Council Secretariat already from this Monday.
The person chosen for this job is Dutch Grijs de Vries - a former leader of the Liberal and Democratic Group in the European Parliament and former deputy minister of the Interior.
Mr de Vries is also expected to improve the coordination of the work of foreign and interior EU ministers.
"He has the right profile" and the "relevant experience" to make the EU's fight against terrorism more effective, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said.
EU leaders also agreed to declare 11 March as a European day to commemorate the victims of terrorism, following a proposal from the European Parliament.
"Terrorism is not just undemocratic. It is anti-democratic. It is not just inhuman. It is an affront to humanity", Mr Ahern said.