OPINION

Editorial

The terrorist attack in the USA had a catalytic effect in accelerating European integration in the field of public order and justice – also known as the EU’s third pillar. Yesterday, the Council of Justice and interior and public order ministers of the EU agreed on the introduction of a European arrest warrant in order to ease procedures for the handover of suspects from one member state to another. These two measures reflect the will of the 15 member states to coordinate action against terrorism. However, for the time being, they are up against the lack of a common definition of terrorism. Ireland, for example, would obviously be unwilling to accept a list of terrorist organizations which might include the IRA. In order to transcend problems of definition, the EU plans to draw up a list of specific acts and the prerequisites for an act to be defined as terrorist. Its efforts to forge an anti-terrorist policy which will not undermine democratic liberties is along the same lines. What is called for is a fine balance between the use of electronic means of monitoring of, and respect for, citizens’ personal data. The intensification of the cooperation between the member states on anti-terrorist activity is imperative. The same applies to the promotion of European integration on issues underlying the so-called third pillar of the EU. There is no doubt that in order to take steps in that direction, many hurdles will have to be overcome in harmonizing national legislations. What is most important, however, is to build a climate of trust within the EU concerning the decisions of the various national courts. These are extremely sensitive issues, for they touch on the core of national sovereignty. The reactions caused by the Schengen agreement are indicative of the reservations felt toward further integration in this area. In spite of these, experience from the implementation of the Schengen treaty so far is encouraging. Fears that Schengen would finally undermine democratic liberties and violate personal data have proved groundless. The continent has to overcome its reservations and speed up integration, without, however, going against the popular will. The US tragedy should urge us to act decisively against terrorism without inroads into our respect for human rights.