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Customs administration joins fight against terror
In consultation with the Customs and Excise Department (Algemene Administratie van Douane en Accijnzen - AADA), Minister of Finance Johan Van Overtveldt is working on an action plan to strengthen a number of levers to facilitate customs checks. In a first phase, a decision has been made to increase such checks at (Europe’s) internal borders. Moreover, customs officials will be more heavily armed. “It is often forgotten that Belgian customs services have police competences. We are now going to make maximum use of these competences in the fight against terrorism and in cooperation with other security services,” states the Minister.
“When there is a threat of terrorism, it is important that all possible means are applied to safeguard the safety of our citizens,” says Van Overtveldt. “Customs can also make a significant contribution to the fight against terror.” The Belgian customs administration will, for example, apply available capacity to the greatest possible extent in the coming period to intensively check high-risk consignments, and to aid in border control together with police and other customs departments. This also means that it will supplement its usual checks, which are based on risk analysis, with checks of vehicles which appear suspect. The presence of customs staff on international means of transport will also be increased.
Customs has verification teams active at Belgian national borders which are not external borders of the EU. Those teams are mobile and do not perform border controls at usual border crossing points. Instead, their assignment is mainly to carry out checks on public roads. Within those border areas, i.e. the so-called toll circle, customs officials have special investigatory competences, such as with regard to carrying weapons, cross-border pursuit and searches of premises.