Border controls resume for Euro 2000 matches

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Belgium and the Netherlands are to re-impose border controls during the Euro 2000 football championship, under plans to combat the threat of violence from English supporters.

Belgium and the Netherlands are to re-impose border controls during the Euro 2000 football championship, under plans to combat the threat of violence from English supporters.

The move, likely to cause severe disruption at ports and borders next month, reflects growing concern over possibletrouble during the tournament, after recent incidents involving fans of English clubs.

Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, who yesterday held talks in Brussels with his Belgian and Dutch counterparts, was told about the temporary re-instatement of border controls for the duration of the tournament, which starts next month.

After his discussions, the Home Secretary said that both Belgium and Holland were "determined to crack down fast and hard on trouble-makers and, if they have good information at the point of entry, not to let them in".

Although both countries are members of the Schengen open borders agreement, the pact allows them to re-impose border controls temporarily under special circumstances. The Belgian government used the tactic earlier this year to coincide with an amnesty for some illegal immigrants.

Mr Straw said he supported the move, and said that the restoration of borders was not targeted specifically at English fans. However, the authorities are concerned about the potential for violence after clashes between Arsenal and Galatasaray fans in Copenhagen earlier this month.

Police in Belgium and the Netherlands have identified English and German fans as the two groups of supporters most likely to cause trouble. That assessment makes several Euro 2000 matches in Belgium, including the England-Germany match at Charleroi, south of Brussels, potentially difficult to police.

A range of other measures include the cancellation of all Belgian police leave, special powers to allow suspected hooligans to be detained for 12 hours in Holland without trial, and cross-checks on the identities of those holding tickets.

Comments