Flanders and the Netherlands reach agreement on estuary navigation

Flanders and the Netherlands reached an agreement on estuary navigation on Tuesday. As a result, the possible widening of the Schipdonk Canal is off the table. Prime Minister Jan Jambon and his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte announced the agreement on Tuesday after a joint council of ministers in the Dutch city of 's Hertogenbosch.

The two countries agreed that the Netherlands will work out a framework to allow reinforced inland vessels on the Western Scheldt. "That way, they can sail from the port of Zeebrugge to the port of Antwerp and take thousands of trucks off the road," Jambon explained.

The alternative to that barge route is the Schipdonk Canal, which flows through the provinces of East and West Flanders. The possible widening and deepening of that canal have been discussed for 50 years. In the 1970s, a reservation strip for the widening was marked. This strip ran across the territory of several Flemish municipalities, which resulted in many protests. This plan can now be scrapped.

Both governments also discussed Flemish Energy minister Zuhal Demir's proposal to invest in a nuclear power plant that will be built in the Dutch Borssele. Both governments are staunch supporters of nuclear power. "We will not make it in the long run by only relying on renewables," Rutte said. He added that "everything is still at an early stage."

Both governments also agreed to work together on PFAS pollution in Europe, and are planning to undertake another joint economic mission this year. Its destination is being kept secret for now, but Rutte confirmed it will be a non-European destination.


#FlandersNewsService | Prime minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte and Flemish minister president Jan Jambon during a diplomatic meeting between the Netherlands and Flanders in 's-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands. © BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS


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