EU presidency should focus on reducing internal competition, says Flemish minister president

In a speech to EU journalists in Antwerp, Flemish minister president Jan Jambon addressed Flanders' priorities for the Belgian presidency of the EU, which began on 1 January.

Journalists from all over Europe are visiting Belgium as part of the Belgian presidency of the Council of the EU. Their visit included the headquarters of the port of Antwerp-Bruges on Tuesday, where Jambon gave a speech on his hopes for the country's six-month term.

"Our response to competition from other parts of the world should not be intra-European competition"

In particular, he wants to see a change to the EU's State Aid Temporary Framework, which he said favours large member states. "Flemish companies are being asked by France to invest there," he said. "Our response to competition from other parts of the world should not be intra-European competition." Jambon wants European budgets to be used differently and for the discussion to be deepened during the Belgian presidency.

His thoughts echo those of Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo, who has repeatedly called for a European New Industrial Deal to counter foreign competition and encourage investment in European innovation. For example, venture capital currently only benefits large countries such as France and Germany, De Croo told Politico last week. "All the other countries are really left with peanuts."

N-VA could leave ECR

During his speech on Tuesday, Jambon also announced that his party, the Flemish nationalist N-VA, is considering leaving the conservative ECR group in the European Parliament. N-VA joined the group due to the presence of British conservatives, who left after Brexit in 2020. The ECR has several far-right parties in its ranks, such as Italy's Fratelli d'Italia and Spain's Vox.

Jambon said the N-VA was considering its options. Rumours have been circulating for some time that the party wants to join the European People's Party, currently the largest group in Europe. The centre-right EPP includes Emmanuel Macron's Les Republicans, Germany's CDU and Belgium's CD&V.


#FlandersNewsService | © BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS

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