Expatica news

Belgium proposes voluntary corps

5 January 2005

BRUSSELS – Belgium has proposed the creation of a new voluntary corps to tackle future catastrophes like the deadly tsunamis that hit Asia.

Belgian Development Minister Armand de Decker has mooted the idea of training Belgians who would like to take part in a “civil voluntary service.”

Participants would be taught how to tackle natural catastrophes and would be on hand for future disasters.

Writing in Le Soir, De Decker also suggested that Belgium could join together with Luxembourg to fund a helicopter capable of holding 120 hospital beds.

It would be made available to the European Union for times of crisis.

The last financial estimate made for the project was in 2001 and stood at EUR 150 million.

De Decker also raised the idea of applying the so-called ‘Tobin tax’ to financial operations across the EU to free up more money for development aid.

The tobin law has been approved in Belgium but has met with resistance in other EU countries.

Finally, the minister has suggested a permanent European intervention mechanism for rapid reaction to future crisis.

De Decker plans to firm up his ideas at a meeting of European foreign ministers on Friday.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news