US President Joe Biden arrives in Brussels this evening for a 48-hour visit that will see him attend NATO and EU summits. But the vast array of security measures that the visit entails come at a huge price check.
According to a report by Het Laatste Nieuws, the president's whistle-stop tour of the city will be accompanied by some 50 vehicles and 500 to 1,000 staff members, costing an estimated €6.8 million. After some number crunching, this works out at €142,080 per hour or €2,368 per minute.
Biden will fly to Europe in the Air Force One – a Boeing 747s fitted with an office, restaurant and gym. He will touch down in Melsbroek on Wednesday evening. An identical copy of the plane will be flying alongside to put potential terrorists on the wrong track, as it is impossible to know which one contains the US President.
Air traffic in Zaventem and Melsbroek will be closed minutes before and after his landing, after which Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo will welcome Biden on the tarmac.
He will be transported and accompanied by some 50 vehicles, reportedly including an ambulance with fresh blood of Biden’s blood type. The main vehicle, of which there will also be two identical versions, is the Cadillac One, also known as “The Beast”.
The €1 million heavily-armoured limousines are resistant to chemical attacks and rockets and can fire hand grenades. The limousines are followed by the rest of the vehicles, among which the Secret Service’s SUVs with open trunks, allowing agents to shoot wherever and whenever necessary.
Part of Brussels will be ‘hermetically sealed’ and traffic will be affected, as the Brussels Ring and E40 will be evicted for the US President to pass through. He will make his way to the US embassy, where he will be staying, while his staff members will be accommodated in The Hotel.
There will also be a thorough inspection of the sewage network and rubbish bins at strategic points will be accompanied by security guards.
Last year’s spectacle
Biden’s last visit to Brussels was in June 2021, when he addressed NATO. Three helicopters and 2,000 police agents were prepared for his visit, while restaurants and stores around NATO and the US embassy had to close shop unless they were willing to welcome clients with police escort. It will likely be the same this year.
Biden leaves Brussels on Friday for Poland to discuss the international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.