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     EU action plan for security and justice should focus on cities and regions in fr

    Latest NewsBrussels, 16 February 2006 EU action plan for security and justice should focus on cities and regions in front line of terrorism and
    crisis management, says Rotterdam Mayor The EU will strengthen public confidence in the European project considerably if it is seen to be making a real difference in improving security and protecting citizens’ rights and freedoms, states an opinion adopted by the Committee of the Regions (CoR) in Brussels today, 16 February. The report, presented by Rotterdam Mayor Ivo Opstelten, calls for the drawing-up of a specific action plan on freedom, security and justice addressed to cities and regions. He says the current proposals, foreseen under the EU’s ‘Hague Programme’, do not sufficiently recognise the crucial role played by regional and local authorities in providing the front-line response to terrorist attacks, pandemics, natural disasters, industrial accidents and other catastrophes. Opstelten, newly-elected as President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group in the CoR, stresses that local and regional authorities also form the front line in dealing with street crime, violence and extremism. He says there should be more focus on radicalisation trends and identifying groups susceptible to extremism. Above all, his report underlines that Member States, together with local and regional authorities, need each other to achieve an improvement in freedom, security and justice that is visible and noticeable to the ordinary person. “This is not sufficiently taken into account in present European policy ...

    if the policy is continued in its present form, it will not be sufficiently effective,” warns Opstelten. The report, which is a response to the European Commission’s communication on implementation of the Hague Programme, as well as other related proposals and initiatives, strongly recommends a common migration policy; the Mayor says this should be coupled with a thorough integration programme, with local authorities given responsibility for maintaining and promoting social cohesion. And their involvement should not stop there, says Opstelten. He urges CoR members and other representatives of local and regional authorities to play a more active role across the whole spectrum of issues related to freedom, security and justice. He calls on the Commission, in turn, to pay greater attention to their input and to take account of his recommendations in the mid-term review of the action plan. Overall, the Mayor says he welcomes the Commission’s approach. He backs the proposal to establish an office for fundamental rights, which could disseminate best practice and contribute to debates on discrimination, racism, integration and terrorism. Opstelten also highlights the fact that the action plan pays special attention to the protection of the rights of children, as well as to combating violence against women and children. The Hague Programme was approved by the European Council in November 2004 and the European Commission unveiled an action plan for its implementation on 10 May 2005. EU Committee of the Regions The Brussels-based Committee of the Regions (CoR) was established by the Maastricht Treaty in 1994 as a consultative body to provide representatives of local and regional government with a voice at the heart of the European Union. The European Commission and Council of Ministers are obliged to consult the CoR’s 317 members on proposed EU laws across a wide range of policy areas, including employment, transport and the environment. The assembly can also be consulted by the European Parliament. More information about the CoR can be found on its website at http://www.cor.eu.int For more information, please contact:
    Estelle POIDEVIN
    Tel. +32 (0)2 282 22 70
    Fax +32 (0)2 282 20 85
    email: estelle.poidevin@cor.eu.int
    Dennis ABBOTT
    Tel. +32 (0)2 282 20 99
    Fax +32 (0)2 282 20 85
    email: dennis.abbott@cor.eu.int




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