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Belgian transport minister quits over terror attack security lapses

Belgium's transport minister has resigned following revelations that EU authorities had warned Belgium of "serious deficiencies" in airport security. Last year's confidential report was released by opposition parties.

Transport Minister Jacqueline Galant offered her resignation to the king, which was accepted, Prime Minister Charles Michel said Friday after a cabinet meeting, according to a statement from the Royal Palace of Brussels.

The development comes two days after opposition parties released a confidential 2015 report from the European Commission. The report found Belgian airports were "not compliant" in several security areas and had serious deficiencies.

The EU's executive routinely carries out security assessments at airports across the 28-nation bloc with an annual average of 35 inspections testing compliance with aviation standards.

"If an inspection shows shortcomings, these then have to be addressed by the relevant authorities, the national authorities, and we, the Commission, also then monitor whether this rectification process happens," European Commission spokesman Jakub Adamowicz told the DPA news agency Thursday.

Political fallout of attacks

Belgien Brüssel Flughafen Check-In

A secret EU document from last year says the oversight of security measures at Belgium's airports were flawed and cited deficiencies

The embarrassing revelation follows the deadly

March 22 attacks at the Brussels airport's departure hall

that - along with a suicide bombing at Maalbeek metro station - killed at least 32 people.

Galant, a member of the prime minister's centrist MR party, had already come under added scrutiny following the shock resignation of a top transport official who accused her of incompetence and "Gestapo-like" behavior.

She contradicted her own staff, saying she was never made aware of the 2015 reports and has also complained the authority is woefully understaffed.

Her portfolio had also included the country's embattled air traffic control authority which is in the midst of an industrial action leading to

strikes and hundreds of canceled flights.

jar/sms (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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