Daily Archives: February 15, 2007

When I started work in Brussels in 2004, fellow journalists warned of the frustrations of covering EU justice ministers’ meetings. They were spot on, because the gatherings often promise much and deliver little. The EU has grandiose plans for an "area of freedom, security and justice." But sensitive initiatives to co-ordinate police and anti-terror work (e.g. cross-border sharing of criminal records) have either taken years to agree or foundered, amid concerns over eroding national powers. Now I wonder whether we are about to see a turning point in EU police co-operation.

On Thursday in Brussels, ministers discuss plans for "hot pursuit" across most of the EU’s internal borders.

So, instead of screeching to a halt at the border, an Austrian police car could chase suspects into Italy. The move would also allow national police direct access to other member states’ fingerprint, DNA and vehicle registration databases.

If the plan wins political backing (it’s a big "if" with some countries hoping for certain exemptions) it would mark a large advance in cross-border co-operation. Some people see "hot pursuit" and database access as the missing link after member states thrashed out hard-fought deals to share evidence and allow swift extradition of suspects.

But what about civil liberties?


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Even in this age of putting a price on hot air, words come cheaper than carbon emissions. So not a few MEPs are unimpressed by a resolution on climate change to be approved on Wednesday.

This resolution calling for political leadership comes while the full parliament sits in Strasbourg, having been followed there by a convoy of lorries carrying documents and other essentials from Brussels and Luxembourg, its other seats.

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As previewed on Tuesday, the European parliament passed its resolution on climate change on Wednesday, calling for a unilateral 30 per cent cut in carbon emissions below 1990 levels by the EU by 2020, higher than the 20 per cent sought by the European Commission: The sponsor of the resolution, Karl-Heinz Florenz, is certainly doing his bit. For a year he has been energy self-sufficient:

"It is an individual responsibility: Everybody has a roof over their head and this roof could have solar panels on." He has solar panels and a wood-fired boiler fuelled by deadwood from the wood on his farm. "I use no oil," he says proudly:  Read more