07 October 2005
U.S., EU Counterterror, Security Experts Outline Next Steps
Attorney General Gonzales, Homeland Security's Chertoff hosted EU officials
Washington -- U.S. and European Union law enforcement and security officials have agreed on a series of practical steps to improve cooperation on counterterrorism and other issues, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says.
Both sides will move to improve their exchange of threat assessments relating to terrorism and organized crime, he announced at an October 6 press conference following a U.S.-hosted meeting on counterterrorism cooperation.
The attorney general also said the United States would increase cooperation with the European law enforcement organizations EUROPOL and Eurojust.
Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, who co-hosted the meeting with Gonzales, highlighted border security progress. The United States and EU are exchanging information, Chertoff said, on passenger name data handling. He also said the two nations plan to find a mechanism to exchange in advance required passenger-screening data "in a way that minimizes inconvenience."
Chertoff also talked about preparedness, saying that both sides intend to pursue -- at various levels -- research and information exchanges leading to a common view of how to respond to terrorism or natural catastrophe, including how to protect and restore critical infrastructure.
"We all have the same common objective," Chertoff said. "We want to increase our security, we want to enforce our laws, and we want to do so in a way that respects our fundamental values. And I think that that common set of objectives is what drives all of us in the same direction, and we will obviously achieve that within the individual frameworks of our own national systems."
British Home Minister Charles Clarke highlighted the group’s discussion of document security and visas, and said there is particular United Kingdom concern about fraudulent, lost and stolen passports. He said there will be a meeting of EU, U.S. and Interpol experts in London later in 2005 "to establish best practices in detecting fraudulent passports."
The vice president of the European Commission, Franco Frattini, said participants agreed on the need to build a network of experts from government, academia and the private sector, and on the need to prevent radicalization and violence.
Frattini also stressed the importance of maintaining a balance between strong security and fundamental human rights; fighting organized crime and all kinds of trafficking; and protecting intellectual property.
Austrian Interior Minister Liese Prokop said she agreed with Frattini on the need to deal with organized crime and terrorism, but noted that the effort can't be confined to Europe and the United States. “We have to widen that," she added.
For additional information, see Response to Terrorism.
More information on EUROPOL, which aims to improve cooperation in preventing terrorism and other serious forms of international organized crime, and Eurojust, an EU network of judicial authorities to deal with the investigation and prosecution of serious cross-border and organized crime, are available on the organizations’ respective Web sites.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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