Another robbery at the European Parliament - how is it possible? - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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Another robbery at the European Parliament - how is it possible?

Friday, 28 May 2010
According to sources in Brussels there has been another robbery inside the European Parliament building in the heart of the EU in the Belgian capital – the second such incident in just 15 months.

European Parliament by ajburgess, on FlickrIn a message posted on Twitter by Jaume Duch, the Parliament’s Director of Media, an employee of Sodexo was robbed as she was transporting money from the Parliament’s canteen.

Reportedly the proceeds of the day’s trading in the canteen, the robber made off with around €2,500 (£1,800). As a consequence, nobody was allowed in or out to the Parliament building without a bag search.

This naturally raises very big questions over security in and around the building. The canteen is located in the lower ground floor of the main building and can only be accessed by passing through metal detectors and pass checks. However, while all members of the public are able to participate in tours of the building, they are only subject to these same measures – clearly this has been proved to be insufficient.

The ING branch in the European Parliament buildingBack in February 2009, in what came as a shock to all staff who work in the Parliament building, an armed robber managed to hold up an ING bank branch located also in the lower ground floor of the Paul-Henri Spaak building inside the Parliament building in Brussels after evading the institution's security system.

While many are still unsure whether it was a real weapon or a fake one, it was enough to make staff hand over €60,000 (£54,000) cash that was in their drawer and place the security services on high alert.

If the robber's weapon was indeed real then it poses big questions about security at the EU complex, notably to know what badge he used to get in.

But it is widely acknowledged that the European Parliament has a low profile security presence compared to the European Commission and European Council complexes, mainly because of its capacity for hosting daily tour groups.

The Parliament’s buildings in Brussels are visited by an average 15,000 people a day, which naturally makes it difficult to maintain foolproof security at all times.

"We can never guarantee 100 percent security," Mr Duch explained to the media after the February 2009 incident, “but this is the European Parliament and as such must remain a public building open and accessible to European citizens.

Another enquiry is thus required to again investigate the efficiency of the security measures in light of this latest incident.



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