Divide deepens as Flemish government fails to reach budget agreement
The Flemish government has not reached an agreement on the budget, after days of difficult negotiations. Minister-president Jan Jambon's September Declaration, the traditional speech on government policy for the coming year, has therefore been postponed. "I can assure you that we will continue to work hard in the coming hours and days to find a solution", Jambon declared in the Flemish Parliament on Monday. The opposition, meanwhile, reacted furiously.
The Jambon (N-VA, Flemish nationalists) government appears to be in crisis mode. According to the government leader, however, his coalition is "not in crisis", he declared upon his arrival at the Flemish Parliament.
'It is the desire of the three governing parties to be able to reach an agreement as soon as possible."
"I can assure you that we will continue to work hard in the coming hours and days to find a solution to the final sticking points. I, we, owe that to the Flemish people", Jambon said in his statement in the Flemish Parliament on Monday.
The minister-president was due to read out his September Declaration at 2pm, but the declaration had to be postponed. The three Flemish coalition partners - NV-A (Flemish nationalists), CD&V (christian democrats) and Open Vld (libertarians) - have failed to reach a budget agreement. The government leader therefore read out a short statement in parliament.
"We have worked extremely hard over the past week with the intention of bringing our policy statement today", Jambon said. "Unfortunately, these talks have not yet led to an agreement. It is the desire of the three governing parties to be able to reach an agreement as soon as possible."
"You should be deeply ashamed. Society is toppling and meanwhile, you are preoccupied with political games", the opposition responded.
According to the minister-president, however, a comprehensive package of energy measures is already in place. "I realise only too well that Flanders and Europe are in the middle of an energy crisis and that the population expects decisive measures", he said.
The statement was followed by stringent comments from the opposition. Green party leader Björn Rzoska called the failure to meet an agreement an "incredible disgrace" for the Flemish government. "For the first time in history, you don't even get the September Declaration done", Rzoska said. "You are once again missing all momentum. You are an emperor without clothes, a prime minister without a government. You should be deeply ashamed. Society is toppling and meanwhile, you are preoccupied with political games." Vooruit (social democrats) fraction leader Hannelore Goeman, in turn, stated that "for weeks now, all Flemish people have been hearing that they have to wait for the big Jan Jambon show to do something about their sky-high bills. This is extremely painful and it shows zero empathy."
Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon insisted that his coalition is "not in crisis". © BELGA PHOTO LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ