The Minister of Justice, Koen Geens, continues to strive for far-reaching cooperation to combat crime at the European level. In this context, the Minister is attending the Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers (JAI) in Bucharest.
Koen Geens: “The European Union encompasses more than just economy. It is about protecting people and offering them a safe environment. I advocate this every day. Whether it concerns evidence in criminal cases or European arrest warrants, EU cooperation enables us to solve crimes more quickly. I do not see how one can be against collaboration.”
At the Minister’s request, the European Commission was mandated to negotiate the conditions under which providers must share digital data in criminal cases. In this way, crimes can be solved more effectively while still respecting privacy conventions.
WhatsApp or iMessage data are stored on servers abroad, which may pose a problem if a murder is committed in Belgium. As part of the investigation, it is often necessary to know who exchanged messages with whom.
Minister Geens has kept the issue high on the agenda for the past four years. There is a recent agreement on the EU regulation in the Council that has yet to be discussed with the European Parliament. In February 2018, the Minister of Justice has visited the United States to discuss the US Cloud Act. An EU-US agreement is the final piece of the puzzle. It is time for these negotiations to start effectively.
In the margins of the JAI there were informal discussions about the Brexit as well. Negotiations must be held on how we can continue working in the police and judicial area.
In five years time, the Belgian courts have sent 2759 European arrest warrants to other European countries and Belgium itself has received 1622. Because of the Brexit, these cases will be delayed substantially. In the interest of our security, we must ensure that we can make solid agreements. Security does not begin or end at the border.