EU presidency: Belgium must accelerate to become the best pupil in the EU class

The European Commission sent reasoned opinions to Belgian authorities on Thursday, because several EU directives have still not been properly transposed into national law. Three months before the start of the Belgian EU presidency, Belgian lawmakers still have a lot of work to "walk the talk".

When it comes to respecting the agreements made at EU level, Belgium is among the worst pupils in class. At the end of 2022, only one member state had more untransposed EU directives. Belgium still hadn't transposed 2.3 per cent of all EU directives, against an average of 1.1 per cent in the EU.

The Commission has legal procedures to push member states towards transposition. Of all new court cases against member states in 2022, about 8 per cent were against Belgium.

Belgian politicians refer to the complex structure of the country to explain the slowness, but a lack of political will also plays a major part.

Traditionally, a country that will soon preside over meetings of EU ministers does its best to have as many directives transposed as possible. The Belgian and regional governments are making such an effort, and the arrears at the end of 2023 should be less than at the end of 2022.

But the Commission has now made some of the homework more urgent. Three of the reasoned opinions - the second step in the legal procedure - are rather technical, on environmental liability, combating terrorism and the presumption of innocence.

One reasoned opinion is bad political news for the Flemish government. The region isn't doing enough to fight against nitrate pollution from agriculture. A 2020 report shows a deterioration of ground and surface water. At a time when the Flemish government is in ​ conflict with farmers over nitrogen emissions, this procedure is an extra burden. The Flemish government has two months to respond to the Commission.



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