The communal council of the Brussels Koekelberg commune decided to take the Belgian State to court. The case went before the Brussels French-speaking Court of First Instance. The commune wants the payment of around 100,000 euros in subsidies attributed to Brussels communes for the security of the capital, the daily paper La Capitale reported on Wednesday. The Koekelberg mayor Phillippe Pivin has confirmed the lawsuit, but said other communes had done it before. The Federation has granted financial aid to 19 Brussels communes since 2003, to cover the costs of crime prevention during European summits and costs incurred due to Brussels’ international function. “The grant criteria for these subsidies were a little unclear at the start, and some of the costs we had incurred were rejected”, explains the mayor. “The royal decree that fixed the grant criteria for the year was published at the end of the year. The current situation for communes means that we cannot allow ourselves to give away this sort of money”. The cost is nearly 7 million a year for the 19 communes. A bit more than 300,000 euros is generally given to Koekelberg.
In 2005, half this amount was rejected, including 100,000 for public lighting, which was appealed. The commune thought it was incoherent to give a subsidy for the installation of cameras, and refuse to light the streets, which would make them effective for surveillance. “The State did not react to an appeal we submitted in 2009”, Phillippe Pivin added. “In the absence of a reaction by Belgian authorities, we have no choice but to go to court. We are doing no more than what numerous other Belgian communes, such as Jette or Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, have done already. A few years ago, we even added a specific point to the agenda for the Mayor’s Conference, to confront our situation and evaluate the amount of money rejected”.