EU fails to agree on counter-terror measures

PNR directive possibly in April, intelligence-sharing in June

(ANSA) - Brussels, March 25 - An emergency summit of European Union interior and justice ministers held Thursday in the wake of bloody Islamist terror attacks in Brussels failed to come up with a rapid joint counter-terror response.
    On Tuesday, 32 people were confirmed dead and another 300 were wounded - 61 of them critically - in two suicide bombings at the Belgian capital's Zaventem airport and on a metro line serving EU institutions.
    The ministers from the 28 EU member countries delayed moving forward on a European Commission directive on the sharing of air passenger name record (PNR) data to some time in April, and to reconvene in June to discuss intelligence-sharing.
    The Commission's PNR directive would transfer air passenger data to member states' law enforcement authorities for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime. The European Council approved a compromise text hammered out with the European Parliament on December 4, 2015 - three weeks after the November 13 Islamist terror attacks in Paris that claimed 130 lives. The EP Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee endorsed that text on December 10, but the European Parliament as a whole has yet to vote on the measure.
    "This text cannot remain bogged down," said French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. "Terrorism is fast, Europe is often slow," said Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, who has proposed exporting Italy's national anti-terrorism committee model to Europe. Italy has been pushing for intelligence-sharing since its EU duty presidency in the second half of 2014.
    "These attacks are shocking but not surprising," said Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos. "Citizens are tired and frightened. I didn't come here just to talk - something has to change." Avramopoulos added that the terrorists who carried out the Brussels attacks were known to intelligence.
    "If we had shared the information we could have prevented (the attacks)," he said. "The same goes for those who carried out the Paris attacks".


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