Saturday

10th Dec 2016

Focus

Belgium's biggest party has no allies in the EP

  • The Flemish flag - the N-VA is the biggest party in Belgium (Photo: Aris Gionis)

With one month to go until the EU vote, it is clear that Belgium's biggest political party will have several MEPs but unclear whether it will wield any real influence in the next European Parliament.

The Flemish nationalist party N-VA is a political phenomenon on the domestic scene. After decades of being a small but active nationalist party, it was on the edge of disappearance ten years ago.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Since then, thanks to the popularity of party leader Bart De Wever, it grew and grew, and is now the biggest party in Belgium.

Traditionally, N-VA was pro-Europe and progressive, which is why for the last five years their only MEP was part of the greens and regionalists faction in the EU assembly.

But the Belgian green parties do not want them back in that group as the N-VA now has a clear right-wing profile and is surfing the wave of euroscepticism.

It is difficult to have any influence in the EP without belonging to a political group, needing 25 MEPs from seven member states.

In the next European Parliament N-VA is set to have three or even four MEPs. There has been some interest in the N-VA from beyond Belgium. British Prime Minister David Cameron is said to be keen to get the Flemish nationalists into his conservative faction in the parliament. He has already had some contact with De Wever on the matter.

Mark Demesmaeker, the current N-VA member of parliament, has made no secret of the fact that he is against the idea of joining up with the eurosceptic British Conservatives - although it will be chairman De Wever who decides in the end.

Demesmaeker admits it is unclear what group his party will join.

“We’ll find a group where we can defend our programme. It won’t be extreme-left, it won’t be extreme-right and it won’t be eurosceptic.”

He also highlighted the fact that the political groups in the parliament house an array of parties from around Europe but might have few policies in common.

“A political group is not like a party in a national parliament. It’s more of a coalition”, says the MEP.

Meanwhile other political parties in Belgium are keen to play up the ‘homelessness’ of the N-VA.

They tell voters that it unclear what effect a vote for N-VA will have. Will it be a vote for the conservatives, for the greens or some other group - it’s a question the party remains unable to answer.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

News in Brief

  1. Council of Europe critical of Turkey emergency laws
  2. Italian opposition presses for anti-euro referendum
  3. Danish MP wants warning shots fired to deter migrants
  4. Defected Turkish officers to remain in Greece
  5. Most child asylum seekers are adults, says Denmark
  6. No school for children of 'illegal' migrants, says Le Pen
  7. Ombudsman slams EU Commission on tobacco lobbying
  8. McDonald's moves fiscal HQ to UK following tax probe

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Use Bioenergy Coming From Forests in a Sustainable Way?
  2. Counter BalanceReport Reveals Corrupt but Legal Practices in Development Finance
  3. Swedish EnterprisesMEPs and Business Representatives Debated on the Future of the EU at the Winter Mingle
  4. ACCASets Out Fifty Key Factors in the Public Sector Accountants Need to Prepare for
  5. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  6. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  7. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  9. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  10. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  11. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  12. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First