Wednesday

14th Nov 2018

Daylight shooting in EU capital raises alarm

  • A heavily-armed policeman on duty in Brussels city centre (Photo: digitaledinges)

A shocking killing in an expat enclave in Brussels and another mugging outside the European Parliament have reinforced a feeling among EU workers that the city is becoming more dangerous.

A 46-year-old Belgian mother of three was on Friday (5 March) killed by a shot to the head at the wheel of her Renault Clio in an attempted carjacking on Avenue Brugmann in Uccle, a wealthy district in the EU capital which is home to one of the highest concentrations of personnel from the EU institutions.

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

"It could have been me," Andrea, an EU Parliament official and mother of two, who lives a few blocks away from the scene of the crime, told this website.

The shooting follows the mugging of an Estonian liberal MEP, Vilja Savisaar, on Tuesday evening shortly after leaving the EU Parliament building in the Etterbeek district, which is also home to the European Commission and the EU Council. A German MEP was attacked nearby last October.

The EU Parliament has called a meeting with local police on 22 March. But the police has already indicated there are no special resources to step up security in the area.

"It's normal to have extra policing around important public institutions in other EU capitals," a spokeswoman for EU Parliament President Jerzy Buzek told EUobserver, when asked if EU officials risk looking as if they consider themselves more important than ordinary Belgians.

The "international community" in Brussels numbers at least 70,000 people, if you count staff at the EU institutions, the Nato headquarters and the diplomats, lobbyists and journalists who work alongside them.

New figures published by the Belgian authorities show that the parts of Brussels favoured by high-earning expats are in fact relatively safe.

A person is twice as likely to be violently assaulted in Saint Josse, Molenbeek or Anderlecht - some of the city's poorest quartiers - as in the more privileged Uccle, Etterbeek, Ixelles, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert and Woluwe-Saint-Pierre areas. Crime in Ixelles is falling sharply - there were 266 violent assaults in the first nine months of 2009 compared to over 500 in the same period in 2008.

Dramatic incidents such as the one in Avenue Brugmann are also rare in Brussels, which has one of the lowest homicide rates in Europe.

But some trends in the city's EU-favoured districts are worrying.

Armed robberies and burglaries are climbing steeply in Etterbeek. The area recorded 171 assaults, 97 muggings and 30 armed robberies in the first nine months of 2009. Assaults and armed robberies are on the up in Schaerbeek. Woluwe-Saint-Lambert is seeing more armed robberies and car thefts. Woluwe-Saint-Pierre is witnessing a spike in burglaries.

The figures also show that St Gilles, which is loved by younger expats, is one of the city's edgiest areas. The rate of violent assault is the same as in Saint Josse. The rate of armed robberies is more than double that of Anderlecht.

Crimes against women - handbag snatching, indecent assault and rape - are also climbing in expat haunts. Etterbeek saw 14 cases of indecent assault in the first three quarters of 2009, compared to 17 in all of 2008. There were 10 rapes in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, compared to five in 2008.

"It doesn't matter if you are in a nice area or somewhere less fancy. Brussels is a big city and you have to be careful," a Belgian police spokesman said.

"There's not really an increase [in crime]. The numbers are more or less the same. But if there's a criminal act, it tends to be more violent. We have the impression there are more guns around," a spokeswoman for Belgium's interior minister, Annemie Turtelboom, added.

Romania data chief defends forcing press to reveal sources

Romania's data protection authority is headed by Ancuta Gianina Opre, who in 2017 was charged with abuse of office in her previous job. Last week, she threatened a €20m fine against journalists in their effort to uncover corruption.

EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press

Romania's data protection authority has threatened a €20m fine against reporters investigating high-level corruption. The European Commission has since issued a warning, telling Romanian authorities to give press exemptions when it comes to privacy rights.

Romania 'using EU data protection law to silence journalists'

An award-winning journalism outlet in Romania is being threatened with fines by the country's data protection authorities - for having disclosed connections, on Facebook, of powerful politicians and a firm embroiled in scandal.

Visual Data

Asylum seekers appealing returns must get own travel documents

The European Commission wants to increase the return rates of rejected asylum seekers, following pressure from EU states. But the reforms proposed seek to increase detention, and put people who are appealing their decisions at risk.

News in Brief

  1. EU Commission to give verdict on Italy budget next week
  2. EU's Tusk is Poland's most trusted politician
  3. Finland prepares to step in for Romania on EU presidency
  4. Trump threatens tariffs on EU wine
  5. US defence chief backs Nato amid 'EU army' calls
  6. Italy defies EU deadline on changing budget
  7. Report: FBI looking into Brexiteers Farage and Banks
  8. Italian journalist unions protest 5MS 'whores' jibe

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal
  2. Romania data chief defends forcing press to reveal sources
  3. EU to review animal welfare strategy
  4. Macron's 'European army': why is everyone talking about it?
  5. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  6. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline
  7. EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure
  8. EU unable to fully trace €1bn spent on refugees in Turkey

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us