Flemish PM calls for self-government on occasion of Belgian region's holiday

Flanders cannot spread its wings fully because the Belgian state structure is deadlocked, Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon said on the eve of the Belgian region's holiday (July 11). Furthermore, the Flemish government leader announced plans to launch his 'Flanders Technology and Innovation' initiative, in order to foster pride in what is happening in Flanders, he said on Monday morning.

"The different governmental levels have a grip on each other. That leads to immobility, indecision, annoyance", Jambon lamented in a speech on Sunday evening in the Belgian city of Kortrijk.

The fact that the topic of regional autonomy rears its head in the Minister-President's speech is hardly surprising. Self-governance has always been the main goal of N-VA, the Flemish-nationalist party Jambon belongs to. The speech, traditionally held each year on the eve of the Flemish holiday, does however function as an indicator of how strident the party's separatist ambitions are.

"We live in a country with two democracies, a country where both peoples disagree on how to tackle problems", Jambon said. He referred to the organisation of the labour market, the affordability of pensions, healthcare, problems in the justice system, migration and energy issues.

"We live in a country with two democracies, a country where both peoples disagree on how to tackle problems"

In light of this, the Flemish Parliament wants to take the 'flight forward' on the institutional plane and realise a number of institutional 'quick wins' in the run-up to the 2024 elections. The intention is to tackle existing bottlenecks and fragmentation in a number of areas so that Flanders can pursue a more tailor-made policy, Liesbeth Homans, Speaker of the Flemish Parliament, chimed in on Monday during her July 11 speech in the Brussels town hall.

At the start of the Flemish holiday on Monday morning, Jambon switched the focus to Flemish high-tech, research and development. He said on VRT's (Flemish public broadcaster) Radio 1 that Flemish people do not realise enough that research institutions such as Imec and VIB enjoy international fame. This is why the Flemish PM is launching 'Flanders Technology and Innovation', he announced.

Jambon referred to Flanders Technology International, the biennial technology fair from the eighties and nineties. According to the Prime Minister, there is a need for a successor, for a movement which makes people believe in the opportunities that exist, and that fosters "pride in what is happening in Flanders".

Flanders Technology and Innovation will be launched by the entire Flemish Government at the end of September and will last for the rest of the term of office, the spokesperson for the Flemish Government explained.

After the summer holidays, 'Living Labs' will be launched where citizens, economic actors, knowledge centres, universities and the government can look into the social challenges concerning energy, climate and mobility and try to find solutions for concrete problems.

These Living Labs will be spread throughout Flanders and should result in a number of grants in 2024 - one per province, according to Jan Jambon.





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