News/EU: EU Moves for Closer Cop Cooperation

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Subject: News/EU: EU Moves for Closer Cop Cooperation
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Fri Jan 01 1904 - 18:18:27 EST


                                    AP Online
            Copyright 1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

                           Saturday, October 16, 1999

                       EU Moves for Closer Cop Cooperation
                               By JEFFREY ULBRICH
                             Associated Press Writer

    TAMPERE, Finland (AP) - Looking for more weapons to fight crime in
 the new, borderless Europe, European Union leaders set out new
 objectives Saturday for closer police and judicial cooperation between
 countries.

   Ending their two-day summit in this lakeside Finnish city, EU leaders
 agreed to develop a broad range of measures that would allow better
 cooperation among police forces, ease extradition of criminals,
 recognize judicial decisions made in other member countries, and crack
 down on money laundering and trafficking in people and drugs.

    The objectives are also aimed at getting a better handle on
 immigrants and asylum seekers. There are almost no border controls
 between the 15 nations in the European Union.

   EU leaders also agreed to establish a European asylum system that
 would include common standards for procedures, conditions for reception
 of asylum seekers and rules on refugee status.

   The leaders also reached a consensus on starting membership
 negotiations with six additional countries next year, possibly enlarging
 the European Union as early as 2003.

   They backed away, however, from establishing a special fund of $265
 million to assist member states facing a mass influx of refugees. They
 also shied away from any hint of making their laws and systems uniform.

   An early draft of the summit's concluding document contained much
 more ambitious wording about bringing laws and procedures in EU
 countries into "approximation." As in many areas of EU cooperation, when
 it comes down to the crunch for surrendering sovereignty or national
 individuality, nations hesitate.

   "We are dealing with another part of the European integration
 policy," said German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. "We will only be able
 to build it step by step."

   French Premier Lionel Jospin said: "France is against a single system
 but for a common approach that respects the sovereignty of nations."

   The organization started membership negotiations last year with
 Cyprus, Estonia, Slovenia, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. This
 week the EU Commission recommended that negotiations start next year
 with Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Malta.

   A final decision on widening the negotiations will not be made until
 the next EU summit, which is scheduled for Dec. 11-12 in Helsinki, but
 there seemed little doubt after discussions here that the idea would get
 the green light. That leaves Turkey as the only aspirant country seen as
 unfit to begin membership talks.

   Turkey, officials said, still has a lot of progress to make on human
 rights, one of the main criteria for EU membership.

   In a statement, EU leaders said Saturday they deeply regret the U.S.
 Senate's vote not to ratify the nuclear test ban treaty because "this
 sends the wrong signal to would-be nuclear proliferators."


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