Wednesday

17th Aug 2022

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

Finland restricts Russian tourist visas

Russian citizens were circumventing the European airspace ban by driving to Helsinki airport, which was being used as a hub to fly to other tourist destinations. Finland is now restricting those border crossings.

Conditions met for German nuclear extension, officials say

Conditions have been met for the German government to allow a temporary lifetime extension of three remaining nuclear reactors, according to the Wall Street Journal, as the country is facing a likely shortage of gas this winter.

Opinion

A year of Taliban — only aid is keeping Afghan kids alive

It's a year since the Western military presence in Afghanistan ended. A year since panic-stricken people flocked to Kabul airport, trying to flee the country, and girls and women waited fearfully for the disintegration of their hard-won rights.

Column

Is this strange summer a moment of change?

It is a strange, strange summer. The war in Ukraine continues, 60 percent of Europe is in danger of drought, and Covid is still around and could rebound in the autumn. At the same time, everyone is desperate for normalcy.

Germany rejects visa ban for Russian tourists

German chancellor Olaf Scholz said a total ban on tourist visas will not be supported by Berlin — adding that many refugees do not agree with the Russian regime.

Column

Is this strange summer a moment of change?

It is a strange, strange summer. The war in Ukraine continues, 60 percent of Europe is in danger of drought, and Covid is still around and could rebound in the autumn. At the same time, everyone is desperate for normalcy.

Opinion

A year of Taliban — only aid is keeping Afghan kids alive

It's a year since the Western military presence in Afghanistan ended. A year since panic-stricken people flocked to Kabul airport, trying to flee the country, and girls and women waited fearfully for the disintegration of their hard-won rights.

News in Brief

  1. Tens of thousands of Jews quit Russia since start of war
  2. Russia says GDP forecasts better than expected
  3. Spain 'hopeful' for new gas pipeline
  4. German troops return to Bosnia over instability fears
  5. Next UK PM candidates reject Scottish independence push
  6. Russia will not allow British spy plane overflight
  7. Discrimination in Germany remains high, new figures show
  8. US weighs plan to revive Iran nuclear deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  4. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us