The suicide attack at the Brussels Zaventem airport, which has killed several people, and an explosion at a busy metro station in the city will place the idea of a borderless Europe under further stress.
For some time now, the integrated EU has been creaking under a financial crisis, terror threats and a wave of migrants fleeing the civil war in Syria. German chancellor Angela Merkel might have won a deal with Turkey to end the stream of migrants last week, but
Tuesday’s attack will nevertheless increase the clamour for stronger national borders within the EU.
It was only on Friday that Salah Abdeslam, dubbed as Europe’s most-wanted fugitive for his involvement in the November 2015 Paris attacks that killed more than 130 people, was arrested in a dramatic raid. Belgium’s foreign minister said an interrogation of Abdeslam revealed that there were plans to target the capital.
Abdeslam is a Belgian-born French national. Though the attackers’ identities are not yet known, recent attacks across Europe have shown that it is not ‘foreign fighters’ but indoctrinated locals and home-grown youth who carry out these attacks.
The Kouachi brothers, the main suspects in the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, were French citizens born in the country’s capital. This is deeply disturbing for nations trying their best to integrate outsiders.
The cessation of hostilities in Syria and the coalition in Iraq might eventually check the Islamic State in West Asia, but Europe is yet to come to grips with how to stop its youth from getting radicalised by extremist groups.
The Brussels attack is also symbolic because it is a strike on the European Union headquarters and the very cockpit of Europe.