Federal mobility minister resigns over airport security

Summary

François Bellot has replaced Jacqueline Galant as federal mobility minister after emails showed she had misled parliament over an EU report criticising safety at Brussels Airport

Damning report

Federal mobility minister Jacqueline Galant has resigned after it was revealed she had misinformed parliament about security at Brussels Airport, which was the site of a terrorist attack on 22 March. Galant, an MR party colleague of prime minister Charles Michel, has been replaced by the party’s rail specialist, François Bellot (pictured).

In the aftermath of the bomb attacks, the question of airport security was raised by the green coalition Groen-Ecolo. Galant was accused of having ignored a damning report by the European Commission that revealed a number of security issues at the airport.

The chair of the government mobility department, Laurent Ledoux, also accused Galant of having ignored a request for a review of airport security and of having diverted security funding to help settle a dispute with staff of Belgocontrol, the air traffic control agency.

Galant denied any knowledge of the report and accused Ledoux of a “media crusade” involving “orchestrated and theatrical confusion”. Michel confirmed that she had had no knowledge of the report, based on her own assurances.

Emails were then leaked showing that Galant’s cabinet had been aware of the EU report, and that Galant’s staff had provided her with an executive summary. Michel said it was “unacceptable” that the chamber had not been informed of this “important element”. Galant was asked to tender her resignation, which was accepted by the king.

Her replacement is 62-year-old Bellot, mayor of Rochefort, who has made a speciality of the railways while sitting as a member of the parliament’s infrastructure committee, which he also chaired for three years. He was a member of the committee that investigated the train crash in Buizingen in Flemish Brabant in 2010, in which 18 people were killed.

Photo: Filip De Smet