Thursday

1st Oct 2020

Gun drama at European Parliament in Brussels

  • The Paul Henri Spaak building in Brussels (Photo: EUobserver)

A lone robber attacked a bank located inside the European Parliament building in Brussels on Thursday (12 February) afternoon, causing major disruption.

The attack occurred at around 4pm local time at a branch of the ING bank inside the parliament's Paul Henri Spaak (PHS) building in the heart of the European quarter.

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 man showed a gun, or something that like looked like a gun, the staff were afraid so they gave him the cash in the drawer and he escaped," European Parliament head spokesman Jaume Duch told this website.

Nobody was hurt, he added.

The bag used in the robbery was quickly recovered, another official said. But as of early evening, it was unclear whether the robber - reportedly wearing a wig and make up - remained on the loose inside the parliament or its vicinity.

"We are looking through the camera system now to see," said Mr Duch.

Several EU staff working in the large PHS office block, which contains the parliament's plenary chamber, were unaware of the drama. Others closer to the scene of the crime were alarmed by the heavy police presence, including helicopters.

The PHS building often plays host to VIPs, including heads of state, with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev attending an international water conference only two floors above at the time of the assault.

But the European Parliament has a low profile security presence compared to the European Commission and European Council complexes.

"It is not known whether the gun involved was real or fake," said the parliament spokesman. "Of course if it was a fake, it would be very difficult to prevent this sort of thing."

"We can never guarantee 100 percent security," he explained. "But this is the European Parliament and as such must remain a public building open and accessible to European citizens."

With additional reporting by Leigh Phillips.

EUobserved

Celebrate with us. EUobserver's 20 years of independent EU news

More and more people have come to understand that today's challenges can only be dealt with at the European level. That is why today, perhaps even more than 20 years ago, there is an urgent need for independent, European, journalism.

Column

A 'geopolitical' EU Commission. Great idea - but when?

Safeguarding Europe's position starts with recognising the unpleasant reality that Europe's power is waning. Behind the facade of European cooperation, national self-interest still predominates and that has never been any different.

Coronavirus

EU tries to avoid lockdowns as global death toll reaches 1m

Several member states are putting forward restrictive Covid-19-related measures to try to control the surge of numbers of coronavirus cases, trying to avoid a second lockdown. Meanwhile, the global death toll from the novel coronavirus has reached one million.

Column

A 'geopolitical' EU Commission. Great idea - but when?

Safeguarding Europe's position starts with recognising the unpleasant reality that Europe's power is waning. Behind the facade of European cooperation, national self-interest still predominates and that has never been any different.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. Celebrate with us. EUobserver's 20 years of independent EU news
  2. Ban on Catalan leader condemned as 'disproportionate'
  3. EU defends Jourova over Hungary's resignation demand
  4. A 'geopolitical' EU Commission. Great idea - but when?
  5. The EU's new rule of law report - pushing at an open door?
  6. EU tries to avoid lockdowns as global death toll reaches 1m
  7. Reports: Turkey sent Syrian fighters to Azerbaijan
  8. German presidency tries to end EU's rule-of-law battle

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us