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Greens slam summit security shortfall

Published on 19/11/2004

19 November 2004

BRUSSELS – Green politicians are up in arms over budget shortfalls for the security of EU summits held in Brussels.

According to the Ecolo party, the EUR 25 millions which should be in the budget to pay for policing the high-security summit meetings is nowhere to be found.

In November 2002, the then interior minister Antoine Duquesne, announced the creation of a budget to finance the policing of four Brussels summits every year.

Summits are a security nightmare as they bring together the EU’s 25 political leaders – Presidents or Prime Ministers – in a single place.

The Nice summit in 2000 had laid out new rules for summits to be held only in Brussels to avoid participants having to travel all over Europe.

The fund created by Duquesne was targeted at the six Brussels police zones responsible for summit security.

A total of EUR 12.35 million was written into the budget for 2003 and this was supposed to rise to EUR 25 million every year.

Now Green politician Marie Nagy has accused the government of eating its words.

Instead of allocating the EUR 25 million prescribed in 2002, the government had now reduced the summit budget to the grand total of zero.

Nagy said she believed it was a deliberate rather than an accidental move and she was trying to get the documents to prove it.

When asked about the issue, Brussels minister Charles Picque said the Greens did not have the latest version of the budget at their disposal.

He said the federal government was planning on asking the European authorities to front the money, with the promise that if the answer was no, the sum would be put back into the Belgian budget.

The Greens remain unconvinced, arguing that in 2002, the EU said it would finance the organisation of the summits but not security as this was an issue of national sovereignty.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news