Home Secretary John Reid last night insisted that terrorism and not Islam was the enemy of Europe.
Mr Reid said the message of the G6 talks, involving ministers from Europe’s six most powerful nations and being held in Warwickshire, was that there was no religious "dividing line" splitting European society.
He is chairing a two-day meeting of fellow interior ministers from France, Spain, Italy, Poland and Germany to discuss counter-terrorism, immigration and how to tackle cross-border organised crime. The G6 group accounts for three quarters of the EU’s population.
Other issues on the table include how the internet can be used in the fight against terrorism and how to better integrate Muslims into mainstream European society and stop the recruitment of radicals by terrorist cells.
Mr Reid – who recently urged Muslim parents to monitor their children’s behaviour for signs of intolerance – said: "The distinction in Britain is not between the Muslim community and the non-Muslim community but between terrorists and everybody else.
"The common values we have together is what’s important. Whether it is the BNP type of extremist or Islamic terrorists the message is the same – the enemy is terrorism, the enemy is not Islam.
"The dividing line is between terrorists and the rest of us, not between two civilisations."
Earlier, the Home Secretary revealed that Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, the head of MI5, was briefing the ministers on the international threat of terrorism.
He said: "What is obvious is that the biggest threat to all European nations, the common threat if you will, is from terrorism, particularly from those who would through a perverted use of Islam constitute a terrorist threat to all of us.
"Every nation represented here has recent experience of terrorism – this is not just a national threat, it is a common threat to all of us.
"In an almost unprecedented move we brought in the head of MI5 today."
But Mr Reid stopped short of saying he would be calling for a pan-European counter-terrorism police force. He added: "Each member state controls their own security services.
"We are all absolutely committed to common action – research into liquid explosives, sharing intelligence.
"When we faced our alleged plot back in August we called upon not only the resources of our own security sources but on international security sources as well.
"We called on Pakistan and the United States, it is important we work very closely."
Ministers’ planned discussions will mostly centre around terrorism, particularly on how the next attack can be pre-empted.