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Belgium unsuccessful in recruiting enough customs officers

On Thursday, the Dutch magazine Knack confirmed that Belgium has not, for now, succeeded in recruiting all of the customs officers promised to cope with Britain’s exit from the European Union, scheduled for the 29 March this year. The FPS Finances cannot find enough customs officers to manage the movement of people between Belgium and the United Kingdom after Brexit. The former Minister of Finances, Johan Van Overtveldt (of the nationalist New Flemish Alliance), had announced last May that the FPS Finances would recruit 141 further customs officers to cope with the consequences of Brexit.

According to the spokesman for the federal public service, Francis Adyns, the recruitment process for these customs officers is not easy. At the beginning of March, 105 further customs officers will be appointed. There thus remain an additional 36 positions to fill. The spokesman confirms that the 141 positions will all be filled in March, but quite conceivably through internal transfers.

From the trade union perspective, Marc Nijs of the CSC-Services Publics (which represents public sector workers) is not satisfied with the situation. “With internal transfers, you are simply filling positions in one area of the organisation by emptying those in another.”

The low recruitment in view of Brexit had already been flagged up. According to the office of the FPS Finances, a negotiated Brexit (on the basis of an agreement concluded between Theresa May and the European Union) would necessitate an additional 300 staff. In the event of a “Hard Brexit” (with no agreement), additional staff numbers required will amount to almost a further 400.

The Brussels Times