Gijs de Vries licht zijn verantwoordelijkheden toe voor het Europees Parlement (en)
Auteur: Sharon Spiteri
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The EU's anti-terror tsar Gijs de Vries said that his role in combating terrorism is a restricted one as the responsibility lies primarily in the hands of the member states.
"My personal responsibilities are restricted", Mr de Vries told MEPs on Tuesday morning (6 April).
"The EU has limited responsibility on terrorism. Combating terrorism is primarily a national responsibility and subject to national parliaments' scrutiny", he added.
The creation of the post of an anti-terrorism co-ordinator after the bombings in Madrid on 11 March, has raised questions about exactly what powers this new figure will have.
MEPs quizzed Mr de Vries about how he will be able to persuade the intelligence agencies of the 25 future EU states to co-operate and share more information.
Belgian Christian Democrat MEP Gérard Deprez suggested that the Dutchman's role "will be more of a scapegoat than a crowned king" as he will be the one blamed if there is another terrorist attack.
However, Mr de Vries, who is a former MEP himself, stressed that the "Union will not replace the member states in the fight against terrorism", and that there is a legal framework within which he will have to work.
"The member states have the police, the member states have the security services and they have their national measures", Mr de Vries told the EUobserver. "You cannot be effective unless you use the existing quality of the Member States".
Both Mr de Vries and the EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana will work on proposals, to be presented in June, to improve co-operation between intelligence services.
Working with the US
He stressed the importance of intensifying co-operation with the US on the fight against terrorism and has already held meetings last week with a US delegation.
He also said that EU-US co-operation on combating terrorism is likely to crop up during the bilateral summit in June.
"We are looking at where our joint efforts can be made more effective", he said.