Tuesday

17th Sep 2019

Brussels shut down Monday, attacks still feared

  • The army and police presence will be stepped up (Photo: Full-tactical)

Brussels will remain on maximum alert Monday (23 November), with schools and universities, as well as the metro network, closed, Belgian prime minister Charles Michel announced Sunday evening.

“We fear attacks similar to the attacks in Paris,” Michel said. “Indications tell us that potential targets are much frequented places.”

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Michel gave a short press conference after the national security council decided to extend the highest alert level two days after it was imposed.

“The threat is considered as serious and imminent in Brussels and at a serious level for the whole country,” Michel said.

“We take decisions according to the information we have, we ask the population to understand.”

Belgian army and police patrolled Brussels all weekend and their presence will be increased on Monday, with up to 10 terrorists being hunted, according to Belgian media. They are suspected of carrying arms and explosives.

Shopping malls, shops on important streets, cinemas, concert halls and theatres remained closed on Saturday and Sunday and will remain so Monday.

Security was stepped up at the Gare du Midi, where the Thalys and Eurostar trains leave to France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Britain.

Just after the PM's press conference, a police operation was launched in the centre of Brussels, not far from the Grand Place. Restaurant customers and locals were asked not to go out.

Belgian authorities gave no detail about the nature of the threat or the suspects.

But tension ran high over the weekend.

Four men in a car were arrested on Saturday near the Grand Sablon square in the centre of Brussels. Six men were also arrested at a highway petrol station, but they were a humanitarian convoy going to Turkey.

On Sunday afternoon, the offices of the Flemish TV station were evacuated in Vilvoorde, near Brussels, and a suspicious car was searched for explosives.

Much of Brussels’ economic and working activities will be disrupted Monday.

EU institutions will work, but with increased security checked and some meetings cancelled.

There is "no specific threat to EU institutions but security measures are reenforced," commissioner Kristalina Georgieva posted on her Twitter account Sunday evening.

The EU Council raised the alert level to Orange and "the majority of non-essential meetings" are cancelled, it announced.

But the Eurogroup meeting and the meeting of EU education ministers will take place.

This article is updated to include new information

News in Brief

  1. Germany prepared to top up post-Brexit EU budget
  2. New Saudi attack threats, but EU and US still divided
  3. EU anti-trust chief goes after Belgian tax breaks
  4. Luxembourg PM Bettel humiliates Johnson
  5. No new backstop proposal at Juncker-Johnson lunch
  6. Saudi oil production in flames after drone attack
  7. US: attack on Saudi oil came from Iran or Iraq
  8. Poll: Belgium's far-right Vlaams Belang largest party

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. EU must give full support to Ukraine to dissuade Kremlin
  2. EU divided on how to protect rule of law
  3. Nordic region to become world's most sustainable and integrated
  4. In detail: Belgium's EU nominee faces crime probe
  5. France urges EU virtual currency rules amid Libra risk
  6. Brexit and new commission in focus This WEEK
  7. As recession looms, Europe needs more spending
  8. How should the EU handle Russia now?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us