Prime Minister Alexander De Croo on Friday called on the private sector to contribute to efforts to secure port facilities and fight drug trafficking, due to the violence generated by the trade.
The call came one day after the federal government took a number of decisions in this regard at a National Security Council (NSC) meeting.
“All this has a price. And I would like to discuss in the next few weeks how we can assume this joint responsibility,” Prime Minister De Croo said in Antwerp at a meeting between Belgian and Dutch ministers and shipowners to define a common approach to the fight against the influx of drugs through the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam.
Joint financing of efforts to protect the ports
Mr De Croo stressed that economic activity at the ports was “vital for jobs and growth,” but also entailed considerable collateral damage and reputational risks.
“Joint financing of such efforts is not new. And it should not be taboo,” the Prime Minister said. “Asking private companies to bear part of the cost of protecting the infrastructure they use is not a new idea. It is quite common,” he added.
He cited the examples of Brussels Airport Company, which co-finances security at Zaventem airport, Engie, which pays for the protection of its nuclear power plants, and banks, which finance the safeguarding of cash transports.
De Croo also pointed to the “high costs” incurred as a result of drugs being brought “into our ports, cities and societies.”
'The only way to tackle this threat is to work together'
“The only way to tackle this threat is to work together, to launch joint initiatives and to share responsibility, together with local and port authorities, shipowners, container shipping companies, terminal operators. Together,” said the head of government.
Prime Minister De Croo was accompanied by the federal Ministers of the Interior and Justice, Annelies Verlinden and Vincent Van Quickenborne.
The Netherlands was represented by Justice Minister Dilan Ye¿ilgöz-Zegerius, her colleague for Infrastructure and Water Management, Mark Habers, State Secretary for Benefits and Customs Aukje de Vries, and Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb.