Stronger EU border protection is 'correct approach', says Belgian PM

"The approach adopted at the European summit is not a tough approach, but a correct approach," Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told Radio 1 on Friday after Thursday's EU summit. At that summit, EU leaders agreed to tighten surveillance of Europe's external borders.

The 27 European heads of state and government called on the European Commission to use European money to pay for walls and fences that could strengthen the bloc's external borders on Thursday. With his government internally divided, Belgium's prime minister did not intervene in the summit debate, but told local radio on Friday that stronger border protection was the "correct approach".

"The situation in our country, in the Netherlands, in Austria, is not sustainable for a number of reasons. There is too much uncontrolled migration because we have not sufficiently controlled our external borders. This agreement is very clear about that and calls for resources to be released for that purpose," De Croo told Radio 1.

The prime minister was reluctant to say that guarding the external borders would mean building fences or walls. "The external border is quite a long border and it depends on the location. In some places it will involve technology like surveillance cameras and drones, in other places it will involve infrastructure to check people. The idea is not to create a European fortress," said Prime Minister De Croo. "It will be a combination of infrastructure and technology, people and systems." 

"I would not call this a tough approach, I would call it the correct approach," the prime minister added. "It means that people who are entitled to reception will be able to get it. We cannot offer them that in our country today," said De Croo, referring to Belgium's ongoing refugee reception crisis. The prime minister pointed out that border controls are already in place today, including at Brussels airport.

"Week by week we are making progress in terms of reception in our country. But yesterday's most important decision is that no country can do this alone. It is only possible if we start working together and the willingness to do so has now been confirmed," said the prime minister.



Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, Malta's Prime Minister Robert Abela and Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo during the European leaders summit in Brussels on February 9, 2023 © JOHANNA GERON / POOL / AFP


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