Ministers back EU anti-terror tsar

European Union ministers agreed yesterday to appoint a single anti-terrorism tsar and increase intelligence sharing as the continent braces itself for further terror attacks.

France insisted Europe’s big five states – herself, Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy – would together manage the flow of intelligence amid fear of leaks.

France’s interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy said: “We are used to working together.

“Intelligence is the most difficult and complex thing to share. You have to protect your sources, which is already hard enough to do within the same country.”

The hastily organised talks were held eight days after the Madrid rail bombings that killed 202 people and wounded 1,800.

Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell said the emergency gathering of officials from the EU’s 15-member states was “a comprehensive response to the terrorist threat.”

Ministers broadly agreed with German and European Commission plans for a “clearing house” through which states would exchange information on terrorism.

One name linked with the anti-terrorism tsar post is former Dutch deputy interior minister, Klaas de Vries.

Ministers agreed to implement the use of biometric data in visas and passports and aimed to set a deadline for a database of all visas issued to non-EU citizens, in a bid to clamp down on illegal immigration.

Home Secretary David Blunkett said there was no need for new bodies, such as the proposed “European CIA.”

“We want action on those measures which have already been agreed upon.”