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EU launches mission to disrupt people smugglers

Royal Marines from HMS Bulwark help rescue migrants stranded on a boat, thirty miles off the Libyan coast. Credit: PA

The EU has agreed to use planes, boats and drones to disrupt people smuggling from north Africa to Europe.

The first phase of the multi-national naval operation will focus on "surveillance and assessment" of the criminal networks that enable the dangerous Mediterranean crossings but later stages of the mission could involve military action against the smugglers.

But ministers warned a UN Security Council resolution would be needed before later stages of the operation could begin.

Farage: 500,000 IS militants could exploit 'asylum' policies

Hundreds of thousands of Islamic State extremists could flood into Europe as a result of policies introduced to try to tackle the migrant boat crisis, Ukip leader Nigel Farage has warned.

Mr Farage took time out of general election campaigning to take part in a debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg over the issue, after hundreds of migrants have died in recent weeks trying to cross the Mediterranean from Africa.

Speaking to ITV News' Rohit Kachroo, Mr Farage warned that militants could exploit any change in policy to claim asylum and then move to other areas within the continent.

I genuinely believe - and this is backed up by what ISIS themselves have said, they said they would send half a million Islamic radicals to Europe - and UK security chiefs, people from the UN have also given this warning.

There is no method, under what Europe is proposing for giving people asylum, of being able to monitor or filter out those extremists.

– Nigel Farage, Ukip leader


EU ministers to discuss terror threat

European ministers will meet today to discuss the threat of Islamist extremists following recent attacks.

Security has been stepped up across parts of Europe following recent attacks. Credit: Reuters

A failed terrorist plot in Belgium and atrocities in Paris in which 17 people died has put Europe on high alert for more potential attacks.

More than two dozen people were arrested in anti-terror raids across France, Germany and Belgium last week.

Twenty-eight ministers are due to attend the meeting in Brussels where the threat of radicalised fighters returning from Iraq and Syria will be discussed.

The talks will also focus on EU relations with Russia after the Ukraine crisis.

European prime ministers to meet over Ukraine crisis

The prime ministers of central European countries part of the Visegrad group are to hold a summit tomorrow to discuss the crisis situation in Ukraine, according to Slovakian government officials.

An anti-government protester waves a Ukranian flag near barricades at the site of clashes with riot police in Kiev Credit: REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

The Visegrad group, made up of The Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland has called an extraordinary meeting of the prime ministers following the Ukrainian parliament's decision to back-track on controversial anti-protest legislation.

Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich accepted the resignation of prime minister Mykola Azarov and his cabinet, in the hope that a peaceful settlement can be found to end the unrest in the country.

Comedian Rufus Hound to stand as MEP

Rufus Hound wants to stand as an MEP. Credit: Matt Crossick/Matt Crossick/Empics Entertainment

Comedian Rufus Hound has announced he intends to stands as a prospective Member of the European Parliament to campaign against changes to the NHS.

In a post on his blog he said: "In May, I will be standing as a prospective Member of the European Parliament, and doing so for The National Health Action Party.

"For anyone who follows me on Twitter, I doubt that my party of choice will come as too much of a surprise. I’ve been tweeting endlessly over the past few months about the dangers the NHS currently faces."

He added: "The NHS is the one of the single greatest achievements of any civilisation, ever, anywhere in the history of the world."


British salt and beef granted protected status

Anglesey sea salt and West Country beef and lamb have been awarded European Union protected food name status.

The sea salt is sourced harvested in the Menai Strait in Anglesey Credit: PA

The status guarantees authenticity and origin and prevents imitation products from using their name.

Food name status will protect West Country lamb and beef. Credit: ITV News West Country

Family business Halen Mon Anglesey Sea Salt predicted that being awarded the status will allow it to increase its workforce by 25% this year.

Protected foods 'bring £900 million to economy'

Protected food products in the UK contribute an estimated £900 million to the European economy, and the government is keen to encourage more food producers across the UK to apply for the special status. Farming Minister George Eustice said:

Exceeding the 60th registration is an achievement to be proud of. Legal protection of the quality, provenance and reputation of British food will help small businesses make a valuable economic contribution both locally and nationally.

We now want to help many more UK food producers who are thinking about making an application for protected name status to get their quality produce fully recognised.

UK foods gain protected status

West Country beef and lamb, and Anglesey sea salt have joined the ranks of some of the UK's most famous foods such as Stilton cheese and Melton Mowbray pies by gaining protected status.

West Country beef and lamb are now protected under EU rules. Credit: Press Association

The foods have been awarded European Union protected food name status, which guarantees their authenticity and origin and prevents imitation products from using their name.

The latest awards bring the total of UK products which are protected to more than 60, including Cornish clotted cream, Whitstable oysters and Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese.

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