Belgian and British police to step up cooperation
An agreement between Belgium and the UK to restore police cooperation to pre-Brexit levels is close to being finalised, according to prime minister Alexander De Croo. He made the statement in London on Tuesday after a meeting with British prime minister Rishi Sunak.
"This will be a huge step forward," said De Croo. "It's the first time this level of cooperation has taken place between the UK and a European country. Essentially, we are returning to the pre-Brexit situation where we can share information as we did before."
Negotiations began in October 2022 and are expected to be concluded in the coming weeks. The agreement establishes a legal framework for exchanging information and close cooperation between police forces, particularly for Eurostar's security.
The agreement, said De Croo, shows that the relationship with the UK remains important after Brexit. Although trade volumes have not yet returned to pre-Brexit levels, they are recovering, and there are concrete plans for a second submarine electricity cable between Belgium and the UK.
De Croo also stressed the need for geopolitical coordination with London. He and Sunak discussed the situation in the Red Sea, where ongoing attacks by Houthi rebels on merchant ships threaten to affect the economy and prices. The UK and US have responded aggressively, targeting rebel infrastructure in Yemen on Monday.
While understanding the US and UK military actions, De Croo underlined that the European mission is "a defensive operation to protect our ships". He added that Europe's involvement is complementary to that of the US and the UK.
Meanwhile, the EU wants to launch its own mission, and Belgium is ready to participate. This could initially involve liaison officers and, in the longer term, the frigate Louise-Marie.
© BELGA PHOTO DIRK WAEM