Flemish government reaches nitrogen agreement after weeks-long deadlock
The Flemish government finally reached a deal on Friday on how it will reduce nitrogen emissions, Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon announced on Twitter. The Belgian region's government has been in crisis for weeks over its plans to tackle the nitrogen problem.
In February, the Flemish government launched a nitrogen agreement proposal to reduce harmful emissions of nitrogen. The approach Flanders put on the table was met with resistance from various sides. While the agricultural sector considered the proposed agreement too strict and in many cases unfeasible, a number of environmental organisations believed it did not go nearly far enough.
The sensitive issue caused a weeks-long political deadlock among Flemish governing parties. Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon described the nitrogen negotiations as "the most difficult dossier" of his government. The issue brought his government to the brink of collapse.
Contrary to expectations, the Flemish government finally reached an agreement on Friday. Jambon presented the agreement alongside the full government at a press conference. The plan aims to halve nitrogen emissions by 2030 and allocates 3.6 billion euros.
The final agreement largely restates the content of the proposal tabled last Sunday, but there will be an additional study for two sticking points that were important to CD&V (Flemish Christian Democrats). Those sticking points were the so-called external offsetting - allowing one farmer to (partially) take over the emission rights of another - and the alignment of standards for agriculture and industry.
CD&V contested the fact that the nitrogen threshold for agriculture is stricter than the threshold for industry. If the outcome of the agreed study is positive, the stricter nitrogen threshold for agriculture will disappear from 1 January.
#FlandersNewsService | (Left to right) Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon, Flemish Minister of Welfare Hilde Crevits, Flemish Minister of Domestic Policy and Living Together Bart Somers and Flemish Minister of Education and Animal Welfare and Sports Ben Weyts during a press conference presenting the region's nitrogen agreement © BELGA PHOTO JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE