Richard North, 06/07/2004  

The Socialist Republic of Sheffield – home secretary Blunkett's stamping ground – was host to a meeting yesterday of the so-called Group of Five, comprising Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – the EU’s five largest member states.

The main item on the agenda seems to have been "stronger coordination and an increased cooperation" on the security of the EU's external borders, something that has increasingly sinister overtones. Although there is nothing formal at this stage – there rarely is when the EU is planning initiatives – the suspicion is definitely that they are after creating an EU corps of border guards.

Students of the Soviet Union will recall that its borders were guarded be a dedicated force – more commonly known as the KGB. It seems now that the EU has ambitions of following along this route. He believes that, with 25-member states, external border security is a major issues.

The European Union now has 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles) of terrestrial border and 85,000 kilometers of maritime borders.

Adopting the typical obscure language beloved of EU bureaucrats, he proposed that "the G5" adopt a "more integrated approach" to the management of the borders. This is definitely code for a common force and, once France suggests it, it is only a matter of time before we start seeing some definitive proposals from the Commission.

The smaller countries - and Poland - will of course be expected to fall into line.

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