US terror alert 'nothing new,' EU commissioner says
06.10.10 @ 09:37
BRUSSELS - The US terrorism alert on Europe is not based on any new security developments and should not lead to changes in the way EU governments handle the terrorist threat, justice and fundamental rights commissioner Viviane Reding has said.
"On the terror alert in the US, some European ministers have given the answer already - they have said there is nothing new and that threats have been on the table for several years," Ms Reding said at a roundtable discussion organised in Brussels on Tuesday (6 October) by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a German think-tank.
"So, of course if there is nothing new, we don't have to do anything new, we can continue in the way we have proceeded until now - a very serious analysis of possible threats and reactions in order to avoid that those threats become terror attacks."
The commissioner was referring to earlier comments made by German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere, who warned against "being alarmist" over the US alert issued on Sunday, which reportedly concerned tourist attractions in Berlin.
Asked if she feared the US alert may lead to requests from the US side for EU governments to share even more data on their citizens, Ms Reding pointed to the overarching agreement on data transfer with Washington on which negotiations are due to start "shortly."
"I know where I want to go, but in order to arrive there I need partners. The American government is a real partner, they are going to accompany us. Congress will take up new rules on protection of data, so things are going in the right direction," she said.
Ms Reding's cool attitude towards the US alert is not shared by all.
Sweden and the UK have in recent days issued similar warnings to their citizens travelling to Germany and France. Japan and Australia have also joined the move. In the US itself, the alert has seen the number of US citizens overseas registering their whereabouts with consulates as a precautionary measure jump up from 2,000 per day to 8,000.
EU interior ministers gathering in Luxembourg on Thursday will meet with the deputy secretary of US homeland security, Jane Holl Lute, who is to give more details about the terror warning.
Meanwhile, US efforts to disrupt the alleged plot on European targets has been linked to an increase in drone missile attacks in Pakistan.
"European, Pakistani and American intelligence services are working together to foil these plots," Pakistan's ambassador to the US, Hussein Haqqani, told the BBC.
The strikes, targeting the border region with Afghanistan, include one on Monday which killed eight militants, among them five German nationals, he added.
A British man killed in a strike last month was to head an al-Qaeda faction in the UK, BBC's Newsnight reported. EU citizens who were trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan are suspected of being part of the plots, according to EU sources quoted by AFP.