Brussels terror: EU ministers to enhance intelligence-sharing with Belgium

European-Union justice ministers meet

European Union (EU) interior and justice ministers have pledged to enhance intelligence-sharing on terrorism with Belgium after the brutal Brussels attacks.

During a meeting in Brussels on March 24, EU justice ministers discussed setting up a team of national counter-terrorism experts to strengthen Europol (EU’s law enforcement agency) as a response to the attacks that killed 31 and injured more than 300. In the meeting, EU ministers also agreed to speed up implementation of previous decisions, such as against the financing of terrorism and against forged identity used by Islamic State (IS) militants. The meeting was “intended to show solidarity with Belgium, discuss the actual state of play in the fight against terrorism and pursue swift completion and implementation of legislation,” the EU said in a statement.

Recent terror attacks in Brussels have exposed European security weaknesses and prompted calls for better intelligence cooperation. “If we were sharing information, we might dissuade their actions,” Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, responsible for security issues and migration, said, referring to a series of terror attacks in Paris, Copenhagen and Brussels since 2015. “Sometimes there is a lack of political will, a lack of coordination and most importantly in some cases, a lack of trust,” Mr Avramopoulos said.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has proposed the creation of a taskforce to help in the fight against fake identities. “More must be done since IS managed to get fake passports and have established a structure that manufactures fake documents,” Mr Cazeneuve said. He added that a united front also needs to be shown in the fight against arms trafficking. The ministers have also urged the European Parliament to adopt plans to track airline passenger names under the Passenger Name Record (PNR) system.

Belgian Justice Koen Geens has said that with regard to exchanging information and joint investigation, the EU is moving very fast towards an integrated fight against terrorism.  He added that he has received offers of information from other EU ministers.

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