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EU leaders to urge stricter border checks in counter-terror drive
February 12, 2015 / 12:16 AM / 3 years ago

EU leaders to urge stricter border checks in counter-terror drive

* Proposals are a response to Paris attacks

* Concern over Europeans going to fight in Syria

By Barbara Lewis and Adrian Croft

BRUSSELS, Feb 12 (Reuters) - European Union leaders are set to call on Thursday for stricter checks on travellers entering the passport-free Schengen area and increased information-sharing as part of a revamped counter-terrorism strategy following the Paris attacks.

Spain had suggested that the agreement governing the 26-nation Schengen zone might have to be amended to permit more border checks on people suspected of terrorist links after 17 people were killed in a wave of violence in France last month that began with an attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

EU leaders meeting in Brussels later on Thursday will say that more can be done under the existing rules to strengthen checks on travellers entering or leaving the Schengen zone without changing the agreement or undermining the right to free movement within the passport-free area, which covers western Europe.

“We agree to proceed without delay to systematic and coordinated checks on individuals enjoying the right of free movement against databases relevant to the fight against terrorism,” the leaders will say in a statement, according to a draft copy seen by Reuters.

EU governments have been searching for ways to stop Europeans going to fight with Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

Concern has risen since a Frenchman believed to have returned recently from fighting with rebels in Syria was arrested in May over the killing of four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels.

The 28 heads of state or government will also urge the European Parliament urgently to adopt a plan for countries to share airline passenger data.

Lawmakers have resisted endorsing the system for sharing data, known as the Passenger Name Record (PNR), on the grounds it would infringe people’s privacy.

Under pressure to drop their opposition in the wake of the Paris attacks, members of the European Parliament pledged in a resolution on Wednesday to aim to finish work on the PNR law by the end of this year.

The leaders will call for police to step up information sharing and closer cooperation between EU members’ security services and in the fight against arms trafficking.

They will also urge EU governments to quickly implement stronger rules to prevent money-laundering and terrorist financing and to effectively freeze assets used for financing terrorism.

They will call for “adequate measures to be taken, in accordance with national constitutions, to detect and remove internet content promoting terrorism or extremism.”

Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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