On Monday 24 October, a mini-conference devoted to cross-border judicial cooperation was held in the Provincial Government Buildings. Those attending included Ard van der Steur, Koen Geens and Thomas Kutschaty, the justice ministers of the Netherlands, Belgium and the German federal state of Nordrhein-Westfalen. The mini-conference is part of Europe Calling!, the programme commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty.
The conference reviewed the developments relating to cross-border judicial cooperation during the past 25 years. Professor Cyrille Fijnaut revealed details about the future of fighting crime at an international level. The aim of the mini-conference was to establish a basis for further cross-border cooperation in the near future in order to combat international crime and terrorism. A memorandum of understanding was signed for this purpose.
The conference participants were welcomed by Roger Bos, the chief public prosecutor for the district of Limburg, and Theo Bovens, the King’s Commissioner for the Province of Limburg. The latter underlined the leading role of the police forces in the Limburg border region, which had already initiated tentative forms of cooperation in the period leading up to the ratification of the Schengen agreement. “This was a solid Euroregional response to border-related crime, which consisted of joint intensive roadside checks organised by police forces from South Limburg, Aachen and the German-speaking district of Kelmis in Wallonia”, the King’s Commissioner explains.
According to Bovens, it is hardly surprising that this was where the foundations were laid for the Bureau for Euroregional Cooperation (Bureau Euregionale Samenwerking – BES). “I believe that the BES had made a huge contribution. Particularly with regard to increasing the profile of cross-border judicial cooperation in both Euroregions (Meuse-Rhine and Meuse-Rhine-North). Moreover, the BES has fought to increase the importance of cross-border cooperation, not only in the Netherlands, but in Belgium and Nordrhein-Westfalen too.”
Photo caption: From left to right: German State Secretary Wirtz, Belgian Minister Koen Geens, minister of Nordrhein-Westfalen Thomas Kutschaty, Dutch Minister Ard van der Steur and King’s Commissioner for the Province of Limburg Theo Bovens at the Maastricht Treaty of 1992.