Friday

14th Dec 2018

Benelux countries sign air defence pact

  • An F16 - both Belgium and the Netherlands are set to upgrade their fighter jets in the coming years (Photo: Airwolfhound)

The three Benelux countries, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg, Wednesday (4 March) agreed to share surveillance and protection of their air spaces, in the first agreement of its kind among EU countries.

Starting from 2017, Belgian and Dutch air forces will take turn to monitor the Benelux airspace. Luxembourg has no military airforce and will only open its air space to its neighbours’ jets.

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

The common missions will involve the so-called 'Renegade'  procedure aimed at identifying suspect civil aircrafts that might pose a terrorist threat.

"The agreement is a step forward in the intensification of European military cooperation", said Belgian prime minister Charles Michel in a statement.

"We work together to make sure that European security progresses. The terrible events of the past months motivate us greatly", said his Dutch counterpart Marc Rutte, referring to recent terror attacks in France and Denmark.

The Benelux agreement is a novelty in European defence policy because it is the first time countries agree that a foreign airforce may operate and potentially shoot down a civilian plane over its territory.

This raises important legal issues set to be much debated in the three countries' parliaments during the ratification process.

The agreement specifies that the decision to shoot down a civil aircraft will remain under the responsibility of the competent national authorities: the prime minister in Belgium and the security and justice minister in the Netherlands.

Luxembourg has already excluded the use of lethal force over its territory.

This agreement for shared missions will come as a relief for the Dutch air force. The old F16 fleet is supposed to be replaced by 2019 by new F35 jets, but the programme has been running late and costs have rocketed.

Belgium also plans to renew its F16 fleet by 2018. The French Rafale is a candidate but the enhanced cooperation with Netherlands might tilt the decision towards the American F35.

Ministers call for accelerating European defense

The ministers of defense of EU countries call for accelerating the setting up of the operational structures of the Common European Defense Policy to enable the European Union to play its role in the global fight against terrorism. After a two-day informal meeting in Brussels, the ministers of defense of the 15 drew conclusions from the present international crisis and the new terrorist threats for Europe.

Interview

Russian and US obstruction was 'insult' to climate scientists

Professor Richard Betts led an EU-funded research project into global warming. Although he sensed an increase in determination at UN climate talks in Poland, he condemned as an "insult" the refusal of several countries to welcome a new report.

EU-27 unimpressed by May, offer little on Brexit

British PM asked for a legally binding guarantee on the backstop and for it to end no matter what in 2021, but did not reveal a strategy on how to sell the Brexit deal to her parliament.

News in Brief

  1. Selmayr has no comment on MEPs' call to resign
  2. May had 'robust' discussion with Juncker
  3. UK to continue talks on EU 'assurances'
  4. EU invests €20m in AI software for self-driving cars
  5. Belgian PM 'not optimistic', urges 'no deal' Brexit preparedness
  6. Romanian president expects no Brexit summit in January
  7. Swedish MPs reject Lofven to lead new government
  8. EU commission's Selmayr 'must resign', MEPs say

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Kosovo has right to its own army, Germany and US say
  2. EU needs election-meddling stress tests
  3. Russian and US obstruction was 'insult' to climate scientists
  4. EU-27 unimpressed by May, offer little on Brexit
  5. Rutte: New EU sanctions are informal 'Magnitsky law'
  6. EU summit hits asylum fatigue as deadlock continues
  7. Battered May seeks Brexit 'assurances' from EU
  8. Lost in Brexit chaos - abortion rights in Northern Ireland

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us