Monday

24th Sep 2018

France, Belgium step up security cooperation

  • Army in Brussels. "I never doubted for a moment the strength and determination of the Belgian government," the French PM said. (Photo: Miguel Discart)

France and Belgium pledged on Monday (1 February) to reinforce their cooperation against Islamic terrorism and called for a "European security pact".

Meeting in Brussels, Belgian and French prime ministers Charles Michel and Manuel Valls also tried to diffuse tension between the two countries. Belgium was criticised after it emerged the authors of the November Paris attacks came from Brussels.

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

"I never doubted for a moment the strength and determination of the Belgian government," Valls said in a joint interview with Michel on RTL-TVI.

"What is needed is to improve the information, intelligence and prevention systems, not only between France and Belgium, but at a European level," Valls said, adding that France and Belgium faced "the same threat".

The two leaders, who were joined by their interior and justice ministers as well as by intelligence, police and justice officials, decided to increase their police and justice cooperation.

A French liaison magistrate will be sent to Belgium to be "the interface" between the two countries' judiciaries. The two police will "systematically supply" the Schengen and Europol databases to reinforce the exchange of information.


Belgium and France also pledged to "develop as quickly as possible" their national passenger name record (PNR) database, where data on airline passengers is stored.

After many months of discussions between the member states and the EU Parliament, an agreement on a European PNR was found in December, but the final text still has to be adopted by the parliament.

Terrorism networks 'thwarted'

In a common statement, Michel and Valls said that efforts at a European level were "important … but not sufficient".

They said it was "essential" at EU level to: "make quick progress in harmonising incriminations in terrorism cases", "establish a tight cooperation between member states to improve cross-border access to internet communication data in targeted investigations", and "allow more resort to common investigation teams".

Belgium and France demanded a "quick adoption" of the proposal for systematic checks at the external borders of the Schengen area, including for EU nationals. The measure was agreed in principle in November under French pressure after the Paris attacks but has yet to be formally approved by the EU Parliament and member states.

They also pushed for the quick creation of an EU border and coastguard corps and said they were "determined to work more closely" with the parliament and other member states to tighten control of firearms.

Michel and Valls also said they were waiting "with the greatest interest" for the commission's proposal on fighting the financing of terrorism.

All these measures are needed, the French PM said, because "the threat is at unprecedented levels".

In an interview with France's Europe 1 radio, Michel said that Belgium "thwarted networks, at least of a logistical nature."

"Everywhere in Europe there are hovering threats, from Daesh, from the Islamic State. We cannot rule out that there is still ... in France, in Belgium and in other European countries people who have bad intentions," he said.

Investigation

Bearded infidels in the EU capital

Salafism, the hardline creed invoked by IS, is causing tension among Belgium's Muslims. "We should have done more," to stop its spread, Belgian authorities admit.

News in Brief

  1. ECB's Draghi set to clarify role in secretive G30 group
  2. Half of EU states at risk of missing recycling target
  3. Commission refers Poland to EU top court over rule of law
  4. Open Society Foundation takes Hungary to court
  5. EU court asked to rule on halting Brexit
  6. EU threatens Switzerland on stock trading
  7. Italy's new basic wage restricted to Italians
  8. UK tycoon offers to create pro-Brexit party

Opinion

Building a Europe more resilient to terrorism

One year to the day since the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, the commissioner for home affairs spells out what action the EU is taking now to protect against further attacks.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  2. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  3. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  4. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  5. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  6. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  7. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  8. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us