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Surely terrorists fear European integration

Posted by Helen Friday, March 11, 2005

It is well known in certain circles that the only way terrorism can be defeated is by European integration, the creation of pan-European officialdom and the defeat of that pesky common law tradition that insists on certain legal safeguards for people who might be accused of all sorts of crimes like sabotage or xenophobia. (Remember the 32 crimes on the European Arrest Warrant and the forthcoming European Evidence Warrant?)

Well, to be fair, those certain circles seem to be mostly in Brussels and Strasbourg. The latest complaints about EU member states not producing integrated legal systems, which are the only ones that could conceivably fight terrorism come from the President of the European Parliament, the Spanish socialist Josep Borrell.

Spanish socialists, let us recall, won the election after last year’s Madrid bombing, by promising to pull Spanish troops out of Iraq. Or so they said at the time. Now they are saying that they would have won anyway, because of their policies and, anyhow, there are still troops in Afghanistan and they are training Iraqi army and police officers.

So, it is really hard to tell what Spanish socialists think is the best way of fighting international terrorism. Borrell made an emotional speech during a special session of the European Parliament, after a one minute silence had been held to mark the anniversary of the Madrid bombing (a day early as the Parliament is not sitting today).

Among other things Señor Borrell castigated the EU member states for not doing all those many things to fight terrorism that had been promised in the heat of the moment after March 11, 2003 (and, come to think of it, September 11, 2001).

According to him, we owed it to the victims of the Madrid underground train explosions “to remove the barriers to better European cooperation”. Quite an extraordinary statement to make and one of the more original reasons for European integration I have heard for some time.

"When are we going to have a European public prosecutor? When are we going to have European legislation preventing money laundering? When are we going to see the connections between that subject and terrorism?"
Well, when, indeed. When is the EU going to acknowledge that organizations like Hamas,Hizbollah and Islamic Jihad are terrorist ones and so-called charities that finance them, such as the umbrella organization “Union of Good” are not charities but funding mechanisms for terrorist activity?

We do not need a public prosecutor to work all that out, merely a little common sense in legislation. But we do need a public prosecutor to impose EU criminal law on the member states and to ensure that those 32 vaguely phrase crimes are properly prosecuted.

Who are the villains of this reluctance to honour the dead and integrate faster? Italy, of course, having not accepted the European Arrest Warrant yet. Then there are Britain and other common law countries. They oppose a European public prosecutor "because it runs counter to their legal traditions". Given the sort of unprecedented mess Britain has found herself with anti-terrorist measures because of the Human Rights Act, which, most definitely, ran counter to its legal tradtions, there may be something to be said for sticking to those.

Though not, of course, if you think that the terrorists' greatest fear is European integration.