Belgium to screen all airplane, bus and train passengers
Belgium has officially started the screening of flying passengers, a measure that fits in the context of fighting crime and terrorism. Today one-third is already screened but this should soon go up to 60% and later on to 100%. International train, bus and shipping traffic will follow.
BelPIU, Belgian Passenger Information Unit, is already test running for a while but now the system is officially operational. All involved parties gathered in Brussels on Monday morning to sign the protocol agreement.
Federal police is working for PIU, together with national security, military intelligence Adiv, and customs. They only have access to passenger information of airline companies with which they have an agreement.
Bus, train and shipping traffic
Today PIU is already screening 28% of all passengers on Belgian airports. “This number should go up to 60% because we are still negotiating with 13 other companies”, explains PIU’s CEO Gunter Ceuppens. By 2019 the whole aviation sector should be connected.
Flemish Minister of Internal Affairs, Jan Jambon (N-VA), is working on agreements with other countries for bus, train and shipping traffic. Negotiations are in progress with Thalys (France), the UK, Eurostar and FlixBus.
Foreign information services
During the test running phase PIU already proved to be useful: last week a Latvian passenger was caught in Zaventem with heroin, good for a value of 210.000 euro.
Also military intelligence confirms “to have received concrete information about activities of foreign information services in our country, thanks to the movements of some passengers”.
Belgium, together with Hungary, is a pioneer in the so-called Passenger Name Record, other countries need to adapt the European directions.
Jambon hopes to have the system operational as soon as possible. European deadline is end of next month.