|Italy's Pisanu (left) with|
like-minded EU interior ministers
Giuseppe Pisanu said on Sunday that dormant terrorist cells could strike at any time.
"Between terrorism and clandestine immigration there are a lot of common points: clandestine immigration is used to traffic terrorists, arms, forged documents and drugs”, he said.
Around 500,000 people enter the 15-nation European Union illegally each year, according to an official EU estimate.
In reaction to what they say is a greater perceived threat, five European Union countries have agreed to form a working group to oversee policy decisions about the claimed link between immigrants and terrorism. Germany's interior minister will join discussions with his opposite numbers later on Monday.
After Friday’s bombings in Morocco, Spain has reinforced the borders of its two outposts in North Africa, Ceuta and Melilla.
An interior ministry source said security had also been beefed up in the Strait of Gibraltar and in the sea between Morocco and Spain's Canary Islands.
Spain, France, Germany, Britain and Italy will each contribute one member to the working group, and push for the EU-wide adoption of their policies, Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes said.
|Acebes: facing the threat to |
On clandestine immigration, the ministers were to examine "the vulnerability of borders, on land, in the air and at sea, questions linked to asylum-seeking, social and cultural integration and the fight against smuggling rings trafficking in human beings," said a Spanish government source.
Becoming a target
Pisanu said Italy had identified 6,150 potential targets and added that illegal immigration further complicated the task facing authorities.
"No one can say they are excluded or safe from an attempted attack by radical Islamic terrorism and that is exactly why we have to reinforce all our security measures," Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes told a news conference.
The ministers will meet every three months, and initially focus on stepping up intelligence-sharing to combat the “threat facing our democracies, our fundamental freedoms, our way of life and our civilisation”, he added.
Acebes and Pisanu agreed that the European Union must have new instruments enabling it to ensure cooperation “not only among our police, but among our legal institutions, including closer coordination of our legislations".