Brussels terrorist attacks: Schengen in danger once again while leaders gather Europe’s multiple broken pieces

Brussels Terrorist Attacks 22 March 2016

The terrorist attacks that took place yesterday in Brussels have devastated not only Europe but also the rest of the world. The heart of Europe was hit in a very harsh way by the Islamic State. These tragic events in Brussels airport and metro station have caused the lives of so far 34 people and wounded more than 250.

The reaction of the EU member states was to increase their border patrols tightening up their security. A pan-European antiterrorist alarm has been signalled in all countries in the Old Continent in order to be ready to prevent a similar attack.

Obviously, the Schengen agreement has been once more under serious threat and it seems that the free movement of persons, once being a fundamental right, is not at all guaranteed anymore by the EU to its citizens.

However, the EU officials, apart from their sympathy to all the Belgian people, stated that Europe will face terrorism and extremism united. The latter still remains to be seen since the latest attacks in Brussels were not prevented although it was highly expected after the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, main suspect of the Paris attacks last November.

Brussels attacks were imminent

The Belgian capital is under a level-four alert, the highest possible, after the horrible events that took place yesterday morning. The Belgian authorities revealed their unreadiness even if they were expecting a terrorist attack. More specifically, Jan Jambon, Interior Minister of Belgium, mentioned at Bel RTL radio last Monday that: “We fear that Aabdeslam’s arrest activates other terrorists’ cells. The network remains active in Europe.” The Minister also confirmed that an attack was under preparation since heavy weapons and ammunition were found in the terrorist’s apartment just a few days ago.

Schengen is at risk

The European countries have been locked up after the Brussels attacks. In particular, many countries like France, Italy, Germany, UK and the Netherlands have all tighten their border checks and cancelled fights and trains to Belgium. France has deployed 1.600 police officers to its borders with Belgium to increase security. What is more, Britain has reinforced their police patrols in sites that are most likely to be hit by a terrorist attack fearing that London is ISIS next target.

On the one side, there are people who believe that Schengen is jeopardizing our security. In detail, Mike Hookem, MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “This horrific act of terrorism shows that Schengen free movement and lax border controls are a threat to our security.”

On the other hand, closing borders puts the Schengen agreement at great risk and does not lead to a closer European Union. Besides, Europe has created and adopted since 2005 the EU counter-terrorism Strategy which is meant to combat terrorism globally while providing freedom, security and justice to its citizens. But the recent terrorist events in Paris and Brussels should worry the EU officials and leaders. Why has Europe become a target of such attacks now? Is it because of the massive influx of migrants or this crisis is just deteriorating the situation? Will the bloc be able to deal with such critical issues?

One thing is for sure though; Europe will not solve its problems by closing its borders and by not implementing common policies.

The next European day

Prevention against terrorism is a primary EU priority and all member states collaborate in order to be able to deter such tragic events from happening in the future. The next day must find Europe united and ready to implement policies that can bring back to its citizens the security that have been jeopardized.

According to Ard van der Steur, Dutch Minister of Security and Justice, Belgium has asked EU ministers to convene and discuss the ongoing situation. Thus, it is most likely that the Netherlands, which is holding the EU presidency, will organize a meeting tomorrow in order to talk about the Brussels attacks and prepare the next day for Europe.

All in all, the European project which is characterized by a border-free exchange of goods and people, must be immunized and EU officials should enhance the mechanisms available in order to prevent similar terrorist attacks.

The European idea for free and safe travel within the Union is not at all for granted any more.

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