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EURO

France insists Euro 2016 will have ‘maximum security’

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Tuesday that security for Euro 2016 was already at a maximum and could not be increased further in the wake of more deadly terror attacks in Europe.

France insists Euro 2016 will have 'maximum security'
‘We cannot permanently raise what is already a very high level,’ Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said. Photo: Franck Fife / AFP file picture

Cazeneuve was speaking during a scheduled Euro 2016 Steering Committee meeting on security which took place in Paris as deadly explosions rocked Brussels airport and metro.

Cazeneuve said that the Brussels attacks “remind us tragically of the high level of threat we are confronted with”.

But he said it would not affect security provided in stadiums and fan zones for the June 10 to July 10 tournament.

“We cannot permanently raise what is already a very high level since January 2015,” said Cazeneuve, “but we can strengthen the measures”.

“Our position is not to give in to terrorism,” he continued. “This event can take place as the COP 21 took place (after the November attacks). However, we must have the flexibility, if necessary, to reconsider our position on some fan zones”.

Sports Minister Patrick Kanner also attended the meeting during which measures were agreed for systematic pat-downs at fan zones, the use of metal detectors, demining services and video surveillance in zones welcoming 10,000 to 100,000 fans.

“It's an extraordinary exercise,” said Kanner. “Never before has an event of this magnitude been monitored and secured at this level. The image of France is at stake, our ability to host events of this magnitude with
seriousness, composure and determination.”

More than 2.5 million fans are expected to attend matches in ten host cities with a further 7 million expected in fan zones during the competition. 

Fan zone security will cost up to 17 million euros ($19m), with UEFA promising 3 million euros before the November attacks, and are now examining a request for a further one million.

European governing body UEFA are responsible for security in the stadiums, team base camps, official hotels and the media centre, and will recruit 10,000 private security officers – seven percent more than planned before November 13.

Following Tuesday's attacks training for Belgium's friendly football match against Portugal was called off.

“All our thoughts at this moment are with the victims (of the blasts). Football is not the priority today. Training cancelled,” the Belgian Football Federation posted on its Twitter account.

There was no immediate word if the match, due to be played next Tuesday at the King Baudoin stadium in the Belgian capital, would go ahead.

Belgium are currently the top ranked team in the world and the game against Portugal is part of the team's preparations for the Euro 2016.

In another reaction to the blasts, the Travers la Flandre cycling race, which had been due to be held on Wednesday, was also called off.

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EUROPEAN UNION

How Britain tried to turn former French president Chirac against the euro

British diplomats tried to establish a "very private link" with former French president Jacques Chirac with the "unavowed aim" of exposing him to the risks of a European currency union, declassified documents revealed Thursday.

How Britain tried to turn former French president Chirac against the euro
French President Jacques Chirac (L) welcomes British Prime Minister John Major at the Elysee Palace 29 July 1995 in Paris. Photo: AFP
The government files from 1995 document Britain's plan to influence the French president's decision on whether to proceed with the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), the group of policies that led to the formation of the euro.
   
“Chirac is alive to the risks of ploughing ahead with the EMU without thinking through the implications,” then British ambassador in Paris Christopher Mallaby wrote to the prime minister at the time, John Major, in a cable outlining his plan to “move the debate in our direction”.
   
He suggested “establishing a very private link” between Downing Street and Chirac's Elysee palace. 
   
“The pretext could be private discussions” about currency union, he wrote.
 
Photo: AFP
 
“The unavowed aim would be to ensure that Chirac was exposed to the risks of an early move to EMU, including the divisive political effect within the EU,” he added.
   
Britain never joined the currency union, having infamously been forced to withdraw the pound from a precursor on “Black Wednesday” in 1992 when it could 
not keep sterling above an agreed level, and was keen to stall the move towards a full union.
   
Mallaby targeted Chirac as a potential ally, saying his “thinking is unformed and influenceable.”
   
The documents also revealed Chirac's scepticism about European integration.
   
“He said bluntly that Europe was no longer very popular,” a foreign office cable quoted him as saying at a 1995 heads of government meeting.
   
The president added that the “EU seemed to be cut off from the real problems affecting the ordinary citizen… and people saw it as a mammoth bureaucracy poking its nose in where it was not needed,” added the memo.
   
Prime Minister Major replied that “he had been waiting five years to hear someone else say things like this!”, according to the cables.
   
Major is now a fierce opponent of Brexit, having been fatally damaged in office by internal divisions over his decision to sign Britain up to the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.
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