Politieagenten uit Benelux kunnen vluchtende criminelen binnen elkaars landsgrenzen oppakken (en)

Met dank overgenomen van EUobserver (EUOBSERVER) i, gepubliceerd op donderdag 10 juni 2004, 17:43.
Auteur: | By Sharon Spiteri

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Small groups of EU states are moving ahead of the rest in justice and home affairs, as the bloc of 25 countries finds it difficult to move ahead both together and quickly in this sensitive area.

The latest example occurred this week. On Tuesday (8 June) when the 25 EU justice and interior affairs ministers met in Luxembourg for their monthly meeting, ministers from the Benelux countries - Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg - signed a treaty allowing cross-border police intervention.

Speaking at a Breakfast policy briefing the following day, Dutch EU ambassador Tom de Bruijn i called it a "pioneer group" and said the agreement "goes very very far".

The treaty sets out the terms for allowing cross-border police intervention to maintain public order on the request of one of the three countries and allows police to conduct cross-border chases on land, air and sea.

It also deals with urgent cross-border police interventions to prevent an imminent threat on the territory of one of the other two states and allows for the supply of means and equipment between the Benelux countries to maintain public order and security.

However, this is not the first time that these three countries have forged ahead on the anti-terror fight.

Groups within groups

Last month, the Benelux countries including Germany and Austria, signed an agreement on police co-operation which aims at increasing information sharing and cross-border data exchange between the five countries.

This "new G5", as Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Antonio Vitorino referred to them, follows a separate grouping of five EU countries, also known as G5, made up of the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

These 'big' five hold regular meetings to try and speed on co-operation on security issues.

Although this development of several groups has raised the question of a multi-speed Europe, the European Commission has welcomed ideas being put forward.

Commenting after the agreement signed by the so-called "new G5", Commissioner Vitorino however said: "I hope that the five ministers will commit themselves to deliver and deliver in an inclusive way".

Other formations

Groups of EU states agreeing to co-operate more closely are not only found in the sphere of justice and home affairs.

The Visegrad Four group, made up of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, has been meeting regularly over the past few years to co-operate on issues ranging from immigration, foreign affairs and education.

Similarly, France, Germany and UK have taken to meeting regularly to push forward their interests on the European stage.

Nordic and Baltic countries also maintain close links.

Fears about a two-speed Europe reached a high earlier this year when European Commission President Romano Prodi said that a two speed Europe may be necessary if no deal is reached on the EU Constitution.

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