Members of the federal government battled until the early hours to reach a budget deal. The text, presented to the press on Tuesday, October 12 at 11 a.m., caused some tension, but was finally approved by all of Vivaldi in the morning. Enough to allow Alexander De Croo to come and speak in front of the House on Tuesday for the traditional general policy speech. He presented the budgetary priorities and the broad lines of federal government policy. But, from the start of the plenary session, the tone rose.
The N-VA leaves the meeting
“This Tuesday, October 12 should be a key moment in parliamentary democracy: this will unfortunately not be the case. First of all, nearly half of our colleagues will not be able to be with us because of the health measures”, at all first blasted Peter De Roover (N-VA). “(…) Then, Mr. Prime Minister, you should surprise us with your intervention, it will not be the case, because you have already held a press conference before your speech in the Chamber. Never-seen! It is the symbol of this government’s contempt for Parliament. This is the reason why the N-VA will leave the chamber, we will not be complicit. ”
The Prime Minister considered that the reasoning of the N-VA was “curious”. “They will be able to have all the explanations they wish, no journalist has had access to the information and the budget tables that we provide to the Chamber”, reacted Mr. De Croo, asking that all these documents be handed over to the all deputies.
The sanitary rules were also recalled, indicating that the debates were broadcast so that all federal deputies could attend the general policy speech from one of the chambers of the House.
“Belgium, a hub for vaccine production”
Alexander De Croo started his speech with a small tackle to the Flemish nationalists. “Let me first talk about democracy. For me, respect is a very important value of democracy. To flee, to turn away, is really the worst that we can know in a democracy and this spectacle did not hurt us. not been spared, ”said De Croo.
“A year ago, our country was on the eve of the second wave,” he continued. “Thanks to vaccination, the hardest part is behind us. (…) This period was particularly difficult mentally and especially for young people. We must make access to psychological care more accessible. This is why we have budgeted for it. ”
The Prime Minister also considered that Belgium should remain the “hub for the production of vaccines”. “This is the reason why we want to renew our alliance with the pharmaceutical companies. We plan to purchase vaccines for a possible third dose.”
Alexander De Croo also recalled that Belgium was making significant efforts within the framework of the Covax initiative, for the poorest countries. “The coronavirus does not stop at borders,” he warned. He also praised the momentum of solidarity that was born during the health crisis.
“The biggest wave of investments in recent years”
Despite the good figures in terms of employment, the Flemish liberal called for vigilance. “The rise in energy prices may pose difficulties,” he warned. “The time has come for reforms and ambition. We have in our country so many talents, so many assets. We must dare to invest in the growth poles. We must progress gradually in matters which have remained too long. stuck. ”
Returning to work incapacity, an important point in the budget agreement, the Prime Minister congratulated himself on having for the first time “made everyone responsible”. He also insisted on the need for more fluidity between regions on the labor market. “The linguistic border cannot be transformed into a professional border”, explained Mr De Croo. “(…) We ask the social partners also to anchor teleworking.”
To sum up, the Flemish liberal added that the government was opting, in terms of labor market reforms, for a total approach which involved the participation of as many citizens as possible. “Having a job is also a form of solidarity because workers collectively contribute to strengthening our social system. (…) We are forecasting the biggest wave of investment in recent years.”
“A matter of life and death”
Alexander De Croo then addressed the floods that have occurred in our country this summer. “2021 was the year when the climate crisis hit our country hard. Belgium was in a state of shock. Faced with the brutality of the elements, we felt so small. We remain in solidarity with the affected municipalities, We are strengthening our crisis units and we are supporting the Walloon Region in its reconstruction. But our solidarity must not be limited to the current victims of the climate. True solidarity is turned towards the future and attacks the knots of the problem. is truly a matter of life and death. We cannot give up, the climate crisis was man-made, so it is up to man to find solutions (…) Our country is today ‘hui an international benchmark for offshore wind energy production. We are going to continue these investments so that all households in our country can benefit from them. ”
Another source of current concern: the rise in energy prices. As we indicated to you this Tuesday morning, the government has decided to grant beneficiaries of the social tariff an additional amount of 80 euros. “From January 1, 2022, we will introduce an energy standard, in order to better control increases. This is the biggest reform in terms of energy in the last ten years.”
“Safety remains our top priority”
Returning to the Conings affair, the Flemish liberal admitted that “military intelligence had known a zone of turbulence”. “What is needed today is to learn the lessons of these events. (…) Security remains our top priority. It begins with respect for the police. Let things be clear: we will not accept never violence towards these police officers ”, continued Alexander De Croo, announcing new recruitments. “We are also going to step up the fight against sexual violence with the opening of four new centers. (…) We are going to enforce the sentences. (…) There is only one right way to reach them. criminals where it hurts: by knocking on the wallet. ”
“We cannot compromise on this”
Finally, the last point raised by the Prime Minister concerned the European Union. “For too long we have taken Europe for granted. Yet it is a project that deserves daily attention. When you see what is happening in Hungary, it is simply unacceptable within our Union, it is not This is not a political dispute. This is about the violation of fundamental rights, which should be defended by everyone, from left to right. Within the European Union, we cannot compromise on this subject.”
Before asking for the confidence of the Chamber, Alexander De Croo wished to underline the benefits of his government bringing together seven parties. “The diversity of voices is promising. The debates and their results are only the better,” he concluded, in response to certain criticisms voiced in recent days about the cacophony of budget negotiations.