EU appoints anti-terror tsar

At the start of an EU summit overshadowed by the Madrid bombing, former Dutch deputy interior minister Gijs de Vries was named as the counter-terrorism “tsar”, to work under EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

New measures agreed include monitoring data from mobile phone calls and a single EU-wide arrest warrant.

The summit will also seek ways to restart talks on a constitution for the EU that will grow to 25 members in May.

“We the European Union must be sure that everything that can be done to protect our citizens from the scourge of terrorism is done,” said Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who was chairing the two-day EU summit.

“Terrorism is not confined within national borders. We need to improve our international cooperation… The threat of terrorism is a threat to our security and our democracies and our way of life in the European Union.”

The EU leaders, adopting proposals from emergency interior ministers’ talks in the wake of the March 11 Madrid attacks, also agreed to boost intelligence-sharing, cut funding to extremists and adopt an all-for-one solidarity clause.

But proposals for a European-style CIA failed to win support from countries such as Britain and France which jealously guard their secret intelligence.

Some EU members are also under pressure to implement measures already agreed on after the September 2001 attacks in the United States, such as a European arrest warrant.

“We have first and foremost to implement the legislation introduced after the events of September 11, 2001,” said European Commission chief Romano Prodi.

“Too many are awaiting ratification in member states.”

After adopting a solemn “anti-terrorism” declaration, the EU leaders were also expected to seek a breakthrough to resume stalled negotiations on a first-ever constitution for the EU, set to expand from 15 to 25 members in May.

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