Belgium and France want to strengthen European sovereignty in the field of energy and defence. This was shown at the signing of the declaration of the so-called Val Duchesse security consultation in Paris.
“Some of you dreamed that I would announce an agreement with Engie on the extension of two nuclear power plants. I will no longer hold back the tension: it is not yet the case, although the talks are progressing well and I have good hopes,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo spoke with the necessary irony at a joint press conference with his French colleague Elisabeth Borne.
“In the field of offshore wind energy, we talked further about the commitments made by both our countries last week in Ostend (…) We Belgians only dream of one thing, namely that our companies and our technologies are used to equip the windmills off the French coast.”
Nuclear was also discussed. “The fact that France and Belgium have a nuclear future is a good thing for both countries,” he said. He recalled that Belgium is investing 100 million euros in research into SMRS, the next generation of small modular reactors.
It also came to the official signing of a declaration of support for the creation of Rely. This is a collaboration between the French industrial group Technip Energies and the Liège-based John Cockerill. The project revolves mainly around green hydrogen.
Both countries are also committed to strengthening their defence cooperation. “The Russian aggression against Ukraine has demonstrated the need to strengthen cooperation on defence. In this sense, the two countries will work on strengthening their defence industries and promoting industrial and commercial synergies. This is how we gain competitiveness, innovative capacity and strategic autonomy,” explained De Croo.
The first consultation Val Duchesse took place in 2016 at Hertoginnedal, after the terrorist attacks that hit Paris and then Brussels. The meetings serve to strengthen cooperation in the fields of Home Affairs, Justice, Defence and foreign affairs. At this meeting, an additional emphasis was placed on drug smuggling. The new National Drug Commissioner Ine Van Wymersch also signed present.
The declaration states that Belgium and France want to increase their cooperation. Special attention is paid to organised crime, which threatens to move from Antwerp to the ports of Dunkirk and Le Havre. “The increase in dug smuggling leads to arms smuggling and settlements,” Borne said. She stressed the importance of a coordinated response. France therefore wants to strengthen judicial cooperation in the northern ports.