Again no nitrogen agreement today?
After a marathon meeting during the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, the Flemish government failed to reach an agreement on the nitrogen dossier. The consultations were expected to bear fruit today but it now appears that there may not be a result after all. Meanwhile, farmers are driving more than 2,000 tractors through the capital to protest against the agricultural policy and the nitrogen agreement.
Prime minister Jambon's ambition was to reach an agreement in the week after the crocus recess. A landing attempt earlier this week ended in a marathon meeting of almost 17 hours without an agreement. Ruling parties N-VA, CD&V and Open VLD made progress, but not all sticking points were resolved.
European subsidies for farmers are blocked
During the long night of negotiations from Tuesday to Wednesday, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was also discussed. These are the Flemish implementation plans of the European agricultural policy, which have since been approved by Europe, but are blocked by a negative opinion of the Agency for Nature and Forests. As a result, European subsidies for farmers are also blocked. Flemish deputy minister-president Bart Somers is now proposing that the debate on the Common Agricultural Policy and agricultural subsidies be removed from the discussion on nitrogen.
CD&V believes Environment minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA), uses this blocking of subsidies as leverage to get the nitrogen agreement through. Somers wants the two dossiers to be separated now.
"Farmers need these funds, they are also entitled to them," he said. "For 2023 alone, we are talking about €300 million in much-needed support. We must not throw farmers into uncertainty. That hits them unnecessarily hard. Let us judge the file on its own merits. Spring is just around the corner, farmers want certainty now."
With that, he points to the cropping plans that farmers are currently working out.
Bilateral negotiations will take place in the coming hours. If sufficient rapprochement ensues, a core cabinet or council of ministers could follow this evening. But chances are big there will be decided to reconvene on Saturday.
#FlandersNewsService | Flemish minister president Jan Jambon pictured during a plenary session of the Flemish Parliament in Brussels, Wednesday 01 March 2023. © BELGA PHOTO JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE