Europe to debate train security, open borders this weekend
On Saturday ministers from nine European countries will be meeting in Paris to discuss strengthening the security on Europe's railway network. Bernard Cazeneuve, the French Minister of Home Affairs, said on Wednesday that they will be looking at "very concrete proposals", the Financial Times reports.
This follows the attack on the Thalys train between Paris and Amsterdam on Friday. Moroccan-born Ayoub el Khazzani boarded the train in Brussels carrying a number of weapons, including a Kalashnikov assault rifle and a handgun. A full blown attack was prevented by a number of passengers overpowering and disarming the man. Two people were injured.
French prosecutors confirmed on Tuesday that a formal judicial investigation for terrorism related activities has officially been launched against El Khazzani, adding that it was clear that this was a premeditated attack.
Security on the European train network is a large challenge, given its size and popularity. In Amsterdam alone about 170 thousand people pass through the Central Station on an average week day. The Schengen agreement for open boarders makes security an even more difficult thing to manage, as it forbids passport checks or anything resembling border controls. According to the Financial Times, the European Commission insists that the freedom of movement treaty is "non negotiable" and that there are no plans to change it.
The Schengen treaty does not, however, forbid security checks. And the Commission acceded that such checks could be possible "if they do not have an effect equivalent to border checks". This may be one of the topics discussed at Saturday's meeting. "We want to have an open and frank discussion with some common sense", a spokesperson for Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said to the Financial Times.