Foreign Policy Blogs

EU may help US close Guantanamo

One of the European Union’s most important officials, Commissioner Jacques Barrot is visiting the US this week with some good news for the US administration. The Frenchman, who is charge of Justice affairs and security is dropping hints about Europe accepting up to 60 detainees that are currently interned in the Guantanamo detention facility in Cuba. Europe has long called for the facility that held up to 800+ inmates to be closed and 2/3 of inmates have already been released as they could not be tried legally. A major problem concerns the settlement of the 241 inmates that still remain. These are inmates that cannot be released to their home countries because of “the risk of mistreatment or torture“, moves to resettle them on the US mainland and upgrading military jails has already “triggered fierce, bipartisan opposition

Due to Europe’s vociferous calls for Guantanamo’s closure, US Vice-Presiendent Joe Biden asked for help when he visited Munich last month and Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany seem to have answered this call. And the fact that Dan Fried who is the assistant secretary of state for European affairs has been appointed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to oversee the resettlement process suggests that the US administration sees Europe as being a future home for the majority of the 60 who cannot return to their homes.

Concerns remain in Europe about the resettlement process, notably as the previous administration called the inmates  “the worst of the worst”. The Spanish government, for example made clear that “We’d have to study concrete cases” before letting individuals stay. This will only be made worse by confirmation of news that a former Guantanamo inmate has become a Taliban senior military commander in southern Afghanistan.


Closing Guantanamo is not so easy.



David Garrahy

David Garrahy works in Brussels monitoring European Union activites. He is originally from Ireland and studied a Degree in Law & European Studies at the University of Limerick before earning a Masters in Globalisation at Dublin City Universty. Previously he has worked in the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission and as a Legislative Aide for an Irish Senator. His involvement in the EU has included working for the Irish Forum on Europe and campaigning in Referenda in favour of the Nice & Lisbon Treaties.

Area of Focus
Europe; Globalisation; European Comission.


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