Prime minister denounces lack of political cooperation in open letter

Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo has publicly apologised for the bickering and squabbling of Belgian politicians in recent months. ​ His remarks were made in a remarkable letter, published in all Flemish newspapers, some French-language newspapers and one German-language newspaper on Saturday.

The letter - an advertorial - begins "Dear Belgians" and includes a full-page photo of the prime minister. "It can be read every day in the newspaper: politicians who would rather argue than cooperate. (...) That is not what I had in mind when I started my assignment three years ago," De Croo says.

He then criticises the way politicians treat each other - "often far too harshly" - and the lack of teamwork: "You saw politicians complaining about what is bad instead of coming up with solutions themselves."

'I, too, have made mistakes'

"Politicians are sometimes so preoccupied with themselves that they forget who and what they have to work for. (...) I, too, have made mistakes, and I regret that. But that doesn't mean I just resign myself to it. If we want a better country, politics must also do better," he said.

Furthermore, he stated there was a need "for politics that are as strong as the people of this country. With politicians who are not afraid to work together and seek common ground. (...) And who achieve results instead of being obstructive." He concluded his letter by vowing to work for more cooperation.

Failed tax reform

Earlier this week, the federal government failed to reach an agreement on a long-awaited tax reform package. Finance minister Vincent Van Peteghem, who proposed the reform, has encountered difficult negotiations in recent weeks. ​He was forced to scale down his proposal from 6 billion euros to 2 billion and was met with reservations from almost every coalition member.

The Flemish government, too, saw a week marked by internal discord over the nitrogen decree that Environment minister Zuhal Demir would like to see approved. The decree, meant to reduce nitrogen emissions, has been a long-time topic of discussion within the Flemish government and has caused serious friction between coalition partners on multiple occasions.



Prime minister Alexander De Croo © BELGA PHOTO LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ

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