'Do we really think we can solve this at a local level?': Federal crime summit meets today

'Do we really think we can solve this at a local level?': Federal crime summit meets today
Liege Mayor Willy Demeyer, Ixelles Mayor Christos Doulkeridis, Brussels City Mayor Philippe Close and Prime Minister Alexander De Croo pictured prior to security consultations in the context of the fight against organised crime, in Brussels, Thursday 15 September 2022. Credit: Belga / Benoit Doppagne

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and several mayors from Belgian cities are meeting at a security summit on Thursday afternoon, reports Bruzz. The summit will focus on the fight against organised crime. Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden will also participate in the meeting.

The mayors of Ixelles, Molenbeek, Schaerbeek, and Uccle will be present due to an increase in serious incidents which have been linked to the drug trade. There have been 22 shootings in the first half of the year already.

Interior Minister Annelies Verlined last week presented a proposal to allow local authorities to close commercial businesses if they can be linked to criminal offences related to organised crime. Antwerp Mayor Bart de Wever (N-VA) has called for more room to manoeuvre, yet Brussels mayors have pushed back against the proposal.

"Do we really think we can solve this at a local level?" asked Schaerbeek's mayor Cécile Jodogne (DéFI) who believed "structural measures" are necessary at the "federal level." She stressed that the proposal gives "disproportionate responsibility to the mayors, while these are the powers of the federal police and the judiciary."

Mayor Christos Doulkeridis (Ecolo) of Ixelles was sceptical of the proposal, stressing that "we need to work on an overall strategy against drug trafficking that also includes a health focal point."

Moleenbeek, one of the poorest communes in the country, has seen an increase in incidents related to organised crime and the drug trade. Molenbeek's mayor Catherine Moureaux (PS) said on Wednesday that she is afraid the proposal will make the police do more work but with fewer people and resources.

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In addition to the Interior Minister, Finance Minister Vincent Van Peteghem (CD&V), Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit), Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open Vld) will also be part of the meeting.

The proposal has yet to go through several steps before it becomes law. It must be agreed on at the Council of Ministers on Friday after which it will be voted on in the House.

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