Saturday, July 23, 2005

A crisis is not necessarily beneficial

Far it be from me to disagree with the great and the good who have been pontificating on the subject, but it is not back to normal in London.

Half the underground system is not working with lines still out of action after the real bomb attacks of 7/7. As Andrew Gilligan pointed out in yesterday’s Evening Standard, [no link] it is not precisely good for morale to have the lines still out of action two weeks after the event.

When, on top of that, we are told that the Piccadilly line has been suspended between Uxbridge and Rayner’s Lane because of the events of July 7, we, seasoned London Transport watchers start pulling faces. There were no “events” between Uxbridge and Rayner’s Lane, which is rather a long way out west.

The events of 21/7, insignificant though they were, gave London Underground the excuse to close down some of the remaining lines and several stations.

On top of which, large areas around the three stations where the detonators went off are still closed off, making life difficult and infuriating some of us with the sight of police officers standing around guarding empty spaces.

We now have the rather disturbing story of the Stockwell shooting and although everyone, including Hizonner the Mayor rushed in to congratulate the police for its prompt action, some of the eyewitness accounts make one uneasy.

One Londoner said to me this evening that she became worried for the first time when she heard about the shooting because it made her realize that the police were not in control. Perhaps that is not so, but trigger-happy police officers do not make for peaceful living.

Now we are told by Deutsche Welle that European leaders are standing together with the people of London. Never thought I’d be saying this, but, maybe I should go and live somewhere else.

Still, the crisis is not precisely beneficial to the blessed EU, despite all those leaders standing together. (Sorry to be harping on it, but it is rather a revolting thought.)

Spain, it seems, is a tad miffed about the German decision not to extradite Mr Darkanzali, the German-Syrian businessman, suspected of being one of the money launderers for terrorist groups.

In fact, the German authorities are not too happy with the Constitutional Court’s decision either. For one thing, it puts Germany into an awkward position with regards to the rest of the EU and its drive to achieve a common anti-terrorist fight or, at least, a European Arrest Warrant.

More importantly, actually releasing Mr Darkanzali shows a certain reluctance to tackle the problem that is, undoubtedly, spreading across western Europe as well as many other countries.

In a spirit of European solidarity, the Spanish magistrates are threatening to retaliate. No, it seems they are not going to invade Germany but they may well refuse to extradite Spanish citizens to that country.

As a matter of fact, this does not sound too unreasonable. If the Germans insist that their citizens cannot be tried in any other court, no matter what they are wanted for, they cannot expect co-operation from other countries. It is a little surprising that they got it until now.

According to yesteday’s Financial Times:

“Brigitte Zypries, German justice minister, had said on Monday that newlegislation to bring Germany's law back in line with the EU arrest warrant would take four to six weeks to be drawn up.”

But that may not solve this particular problem. In fact, it will produce the usual situation of a completely unnecessary legislation that aims at integrating European laws, without achieving the supposed aim.

“Mrs Zypries said she feared that Mr Darkazanli would flee Germany to "some thirdstate" in order to avoid a further extradition attempt when the German law wasrevised. German, Spanish and US newspapers reacted angrily this week to therelease of an alleged terrorist, only days after the first London bombings,and pointed to the shortcomings in EU anti-terror co-operation.”

The problem, as we have said before, is lack of political will. A European Arrest Warrant is completely unnecessary, since most countries have extradition agreements. If these do not apply, as they do not seem to in Germany, or, at least, the cases need to be heard in a German court first, then so be it.

On the one hand it is interesting to see that the Karlsruhe court is so intent on not accepting the European Arrest Warrant that it is prepared to show itself to be soft on terrorism. One wishes they had been quite as tough over Maastricht and the euro.

On the other hand this is precisely what those pushing judicial integration need. Now they can point to the fact that individual countries are not prepared to fight terrorism and cross-border co-operation is severely flawed.

Only one answer they will say: more integration.

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