Meeting between Édouard PHILIPPE and Charles MICHEL
At the end of this meeting, we decided to engage in more bilateral initiatives designed to strengthen the already strong collaboration between our two countries with regards to safety and justice.
1 – We have decided to create a Franco-Belgian task force for criminal proceedings against crime and terrorism
This task force will be overseen by the Ministers of Justice.
The flow of judicial cooperation for criminal matters between France and Belgium is one of the most important in Europe. This cooperation has developed thanks to the mutual trust between our judges and our prosecutors, put into practice in the European judicial area. In February 2016, a magistrate role was appointed as the Franco-Belgian liaison.
We have decided to strengthen this bilateral relationship: the Franco-Belgian task force for mutual legal assistance will be responsible for supporting the implementation of the European investigation order, a new EU tool that has been at our jurisdictions’ disposal since May 2017. The task force will establish a forum of exchange regarding our legal systems: our judicial systems are somewhat related and should mutually enrich each other. It will also give us the opportunity to coordinate our positions regarding negotiations within the European Union, especially regarding the issues of digitalization and encryption of communications for criminal investigations.
2 – We will work together to fight violent radicalization in prisons
Both France and Belgium are faced with overcrowding in prisons, as well as the risk that our fellow citizens’ safety will be compromised due to violent radicalization of some of those incarcerated.
The recent foiled attack in France that was planned from a prison building reminds us of the severity of this threat.
Therefore, we must increase our bilateral cooperation so that, together, we can find a way to put an end to these two phenomena, that are in part related.
Thus, a bilateral seminar on radicalization in the prison environment and on prison intelligence will be organised, relying on the bonds established between both of our prison administrations.
3 – We will share our experiences when dealing with minors who have returned from Iraq and Syria
France and Belgium have been the two European countries most affected by foreign terrorist fighters, with terrible and well-known consequences.
One of the biggest threats that is facing us is the jihadists who are returning to France and Belgium, many of whom are children. Their judicial, social, educational and even sanitary care is the key issue. We cannot let these children, who are sometimes very young, nearly always traumatised and indoctrinated, becoming ticking time bombs in our societies.
We must strive to include them in our national communities.
Therefore, we have decided to work together with youth experts and professionals from both countries to find solutions that can be implemented.
4 – We want to investigate starting up a “ministerial quadripartite”
The prosecutors responsible for the fight against terrorism in both of our countries, in association with their Spanish and Moroccan counterparts, have established a quadripartite dialogue on the fight against terrorism for several years now. It is founded on the historical, geographical and cultural connections that unite our four countries, but also on the threats of jihadism which we are all faced with.
The last plenary meeting between the quadripartite of prosecutors was held in Malines in Belgium at the beginning of this month. It demonstrated the strong bonds between public ministries to ensure their citizens’ safety.
We wanted to deliberate, with our Spanish and Moroccan partners, on the introduction of a quadripartite dialogue at a Ministers of Justice level, to fight Islamic terrorism together.
5 – Cooperation in the area of migration
We would like to strengthen our cooperation with regards to the fight against irregular immigration. Thus, we have agreed to improve on communication and the exchange of strategic information, especially regarding readmissions. We have agreed to appoint liaison officers in each capital in order to implement this increased cooperation.
A new meeting, with the format introduced in February 2016 (Prime Minister, Minister of Justice, Minister of the Interior), will be organised in the spring of 2018, in Paris.