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Belgian report Belgian report
by Euro Reporter
2010-08-17 08:27:21
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Fighting criminal gangs at the European level

Belgium's Interior Minister Annemie Turtelboom (Flemish liberal) has asked the European Union to step up its coordinated efforts to tackle travelling criminal gangs. Another worrying trend is the growing use of heavy weapons according to the minister.

The Belgian priorities for the Belgian European presidency were announced yesterday. Annemie Turtelboom said that she is concerned by the growing use of heavy weapons by criminals. She wants a joint European effort to tackle the problem, e.g. by coordinating legislation in the different European countries.

The Belgian Interior Minister also intends to fight travelling criminal gangs. She will put the issue on the European agenda to trigger a coordinated European effort. Annemie Turtelboom gave the example of criminal groups operating alongside motorways. She wants to push for a better exchange of police information between European member states to fight the gangs.


Belgian clerical abuse inquiry to proceed

A Brussels appeals court decided yesterday to allow a magistrate continue looking into alleged sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, in cases that came to light after police seized documents, computers and data discs from the Belgian archbishop’s residence in June.

The court dismissed a church complaint claiming the raid had been excessive. During the raid, police detained a dozen Belgian bishops and the Vatican’s envoy to Belgium for eight hours in the residence.

The June 24th raids, code-named Operation Chalice, provoked a fierce Vatican reaction but no public outcry in a country where abuse charges have implicated senior church officials


Not concerned by clones

Meat from the offspring of a cloned cow, raised and slaughtered in the UK has been exported to Belgium, the UK’s Food Standards Agency has confirmed. But Belgian authorities say there is no food safety issue, so no rapid alert was required.

The UK’s FSA said yesterday that meat from one of three offspring of cloned cows (two 2nd generation and one 3rd generation) has been exported to Belgium. The bull was 2nd generation and aged two years. It was slaughtered in the UK in May this year.  The FSA subsequently issued a rapid alert using the EU food safety system to notify Belgian authorities on 9 August.

However Belgium’s federal food safety agency, AFSCA, is now asking the European Commission to wipe the UK notification from the system, as it says it should never have been posted – even just for information purposes.  Its request is based on the Commission’s response to a request for clarification. Yesterday the Commission told all EU member states that food from descendents of clones are conventional foods, and therefore no special measures apply.

The Commission’s statement could shed some clarity on whether or not meat and milk from offspring of clones should fall under novel foods regulations. Existing novel foods regulation is unclear, and the FSA has said novel foods approval should have been sought by the farmers that raised and sold the 2nd and 3rd generation animals for meat.  New novel foods rules are currently being worked out. MEPs have said cloning should not be bundled in under the revised regulation, but should have its own separate regulation. The Council, meanwhile, wants to put clones under novel foods for a trial period, with a view to possible separate legislation later.

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