Brussels, 20 February 2024

Note for the attention of Ms Annelies Verlinden,

Minister of the Interior, Institutional Reform and Democratic Renewal

Mr Rudi Vervoort, Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region

Subject: Current alarming security situation for staff of the European Institutions in some Brussels districts

Dear Minister, Dear Minister-President,

With the present letter, Renouveau et Démocratie Renewal and Democracy (R&D), the leading Trade Union of the European Institutions would like to echo the deep concerns of the staff of the European institutions about the current alarming security situation in the city of Brussels, and in particular in the vicinity of the European institutions’ premises and in the city’s main transport hubs[1].

It can no longer be denied that in recent months the security situation in Brussels has deteriorated dramatically, and that areas which EU staff regularly visit and work in have become the theatre of shootings or stabbings, of severe aggressions, drug related offences, petty thefts or other acts of micro-crime.

Very recently, several MEPs also drew your attention to the safety problems in Brussels.

These feelings have been explicitly expressed on several occasions to local politicians, including members of the local parliament. As a matter of fact, on the occasion of a meeting with a former Minister on 23 January 2023, the latter had guaranteed that the Police Authorities would do anything to improve the overall security situation in the capital; one year past that meeting, the security situation in Brussels has seen a net and alarming worsening.

Yet, in the recent months, numerous events have taken place not very far from where our colleagues need to commute daily. On the 30th of January 2023, a stabbing took place at the Schuman Metro station, leaving 3 victims[2]. On the 6th of December, a shooting in the Porte de Namur area left behind 4 victims, in an area that is only few hundred meters far from our CDMA building and during which a European Parliament employee was injured[3][4].

In April 2023, a stabbing took place in the Maelbeek metro, a station that thousands of European institution colleagues use daily!

The extremely high crime rate at the North Train station is rather well known; even better known is the fact that thousands of colleagues have to use this train station on a daily basis to get to Covent Garden and the Northern Light buildings.

Last, but not least, the situation in the Southern Train station is really alarming: around 3500 criminal offenses are recorded each year in the station alone, and definitely several times more in the surrounding area[5][6]. Such is the situation that even the CEO of the Belgian Railways (SNCB) referred to it as “dramatic[7]. And, of course, this train station is the main gateway to all big European destinations by means of rapid railways, and therefore a place frequented by the thousands of expat colleagues who need to visit their homes and relatives, as well as hundreds of colleagues travelling for professional reasons.

It is worth recalling the statement made by five senior officers of the Federal Judicial Police of Brussels, including its director Éric Jacobs: There has always been violence, stabbings for example, in the drugs scene. But never on the scale we’re seeing today. We’re dealing with kidnappings, unlawful confinement, torture, firing of weapons, throwing of grenades, Molotov cocktail attacks, homicides”... And Eric Jacobs didn’t stop there. He mentioned the existence of “zones of reduced rights”[8].

In a recent study, Brussels was ranked 17th, among the cities with the highest crime index of the 135 EU cities surveyed[9].

These are only a few of the worrying elements of a growing feeling of insecurity among the people living and working in the European Union’s capital.

This is without in any way underestimating the commitment and dedication of the police forces, to whom we wish to pay tribute.

Fighting crime is everyone’s duty, but yourselves, as senior politicians, have the means and resources to have an impact in this fight.

Certainly, your services act daily, nevertheless, with the present letter we want to bring to your attention that the feeling and the perception of colleagues in the European Institutions is that their safety and security is increasingly at risk.

The security issues may also impact on the greening of the Institutions and the use of sustainable means of mobility. Commuting to work by public transport, walking or other sustainable modes is a priority policy for Belgium and also for the European Institutions.

Indeed, if our colleagues are not feeling safe when they need to take the train-metro from the afore-mentioned train-metro stations, we cannot expect them to put the greening ahead of their personal safety in their list of priorities.

These concerns will also inevitably lead to a decreasing attractiveness of the European Institutions in Brussels as an employer. We note already that talented individuals from a large number of Member States already prefer not to work for the European Institutions for other reasons; if we add security concerns to those reasons, then we can be sure that always more of the potentially future best Officials will prefer other employers.

With your roles in the local governments, with the access and influence you have in the decision-making process of the central Belgian and the local Brussels governments, R&D asks you to dedicate all possible efforts and resources in order to improve the security situation in Brussels and reset the perception of European citizens that the capital of Europe is a very safe place to live and work in.

Chair of R&D


Mr Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Budget and Administration

Mr David Muller, Head of cabinet and Ms Sibylle Bikar, Deputy Head of Cabinet Hahn

Mr Christian Roques, Director General HR (acting)

Mr Marc Becquet, Director OIB

Staff of the EU Institutions








7 NMBS-topvrouw Dutordoir luidt alarmbel: “Situatie aan Zuidstation in Brussel is dramatisch” | VRT NWS: nieuws

8 L’alerte de la police judiciaire bruxelloise : « À Anvers, il y a de la violence. Ici, il y a des meurtres » – Le Soir