EU ministers meet under pressure to deliver after Brussels attacks

EU ministers responsible for security and justice were holding emergency talks Thursday in Brussels, under pressure to improve security measures after deadly terrorist attacks in the Belgian capital.

"It's the moment to pass from words to action," EU Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said before the meeting. "The life of our citizens, the safety of our citizens is at stake."

The European Union has launched several anti-terrorism initiatives, but many are yet to be finalized or implemented.

They include measures to store the data of airline passengers, fight against weapons trafficking and improve identity checks at Europe's external borders. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said he would be fighting for quick progress on all three of those fronts.

He spoke of the need to "face up to the terrorist risk with a sense of urgency."

There have also been calls for EU countries to improve information sharing between their intelligence agencies, with some officials saying this could have prevented recent terrorist attacks in Europe.

Swedish Home Affairs Minister Anders Ygeman argued that intelligence sharing has improved, but also acknowledged that there is "a small mistrust between services in different nations of Europe."

"Many national authorities do not want to share their information with all the others," German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said. "This mentality must change."

"We need to all sit together in one place, at the same table, to be able to exchange information, even informally, without too many procedures," Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano added.

"We don't live in a police state. It can happen that people indeed do horrible things, and what we need to do is stand together, work together," Dutch Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk noted.

Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said Thursday's meeting, which was only due to last around two hours, would be "a strong signal that all 28 member states are standing together in the fight against terrorism."

"Democracy in Europe has been challenged by violent terrorists several times. Democracy has always won - we will win this time as well," Ygeman said.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49
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