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EU to fight racism and forced prostitution

LUXEMBOURG -- The European Union is taking steps to fight racism and forced prostitution during the World Cup.

The campaign will coincide with EU efforts to curb hooliganism and prevent terrorism at the tournament, EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini said Thursday. Hundreds of thousands of fans from around the world are expected to attend the monthlong competition, which begins June 9.

"We will be able to show to our public that we are united," Frattini said on the sidelines of a meeting of the 25 EU justice and home ministers.

Frattini did not elaborate on the campaign, which is aimed at addressing concerns across Europe that racism is spreading at soccer stadiums, especially among hooligan groups that use race to pick fights among fans. FIFA, soccer's governing body, already has passed tougher rules to curb racist conduct by fans.

The EU ministers were expected to review Germany's security preparations before the World Cup. They were also expected to agree on better coordination to prevent forced prostitution during the tournament. The EU fears some 40,000 women from poorer Eastern European countries will go to Germany, some against their will.

Other EU measures already adopted include reinforced checks at external EU border points to ensure that known hooligans and women are not smuggled into the country. Germany will also temporarily re-impose national border checks.

"I'm confident that the German government is preparing quite well to face this terrible threat that a growing number of young girls are forced to being prostitutes," Frattini said.

The EU last year agreed to step up actions to fight human trafficking and sexual and labor exploitation.

EU governments are to set up special agencies or police units to combat trafficking rings, and better coordinate actions with the Europol police investigations agency. The plan also focuses on better cooperation with countries in Africa or elsewhere in Europe that are used as bases by organized crime to move illegals into the EU.