|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.46, 13.12.01, p1-2|
An organiser of the mass anti-globalisation protests planned for this weekend's summit of EU leaders at Laeken, Belgium, has expressed dismay that police chiefs have failed to give them guarantees aimed at avoiding violent clashes.
Deborah Myaux of Oxfam said that representatives of more than 60 groups involved in planning the protests had been told by the police only that their officers "would not be provocative".
"There were no objective guarantees," she said.
Between 25,000 and 40,000 people are expected to take part in the main demonstration tomorrow (14 December). Up to 4,000 police will form a security cordon around the royal palace at Laeken, where heads of the 15 EU states will be gathered.
F-16 fighter jets and six helicopters will be on standby in case of an emergency.
Yesterday, 22 people believed to be heading for Brussels were arrested by police on the Dutch border after being found with knives, gas masks and scanners to eavesdrop on police radios.
Activists say that they are determined to avoid the violence which marred July's G8 summit in Genoa, leaving one rioter dead. In a bid to prevent a recurrence of those scenes, around 200 stewards will act as 'peacekeepers'.
Commission President Romano Prodi said yesterday that he hoped the summit would broadly agree on when the special 'Convention' due to prepare the next round of revisions to the Union's treaties should start and complete its work. He wants it to finish the job before the 2004 European Parliament election.
Prodi also said that he does not expect the kind of tensions that overshadowed the Ghent summit in October to resurface. The former Italian premier snubbed a joint press conference with Guy Verhofstadt in protest at the Belgian prime minister's tendency to hog the limelight. "Of course, there are times when tempers wear thin," added Prodi. "But it is all part of the human face of cooperation."
With deals expected to be secured on the proposed European arrest warrant and the 60,000-strong rapid reaction force, the main horse-trading at Laeken is likely to be over who will chair the Convention and where eight EU agencies will be located.
Former French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and current Dutch premier Wim Kok are considered leading contenders to head the Convention. Helsinki, Barcelona, Parma and Lille are competing to host the most coveted of the agencies, the new European Food Authority. Food Safety Commissioner David Byrne recently said that the EFA may be temporarily based in Brussels.
An organiser of the mass anti-globalisation protests planned for the EU summit at Laeken, 13-14 December 2001, has expressed dismay that police chiefs have failed to give them guarantees aimed at avoiding violent clashes.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations|