Saturday

22nd Sep 2018

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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.

Belgian PM feels the heat from left

Elio Di Rupo's Socialist Party has taken some tough economic decisions since being in power. The leftist Workers' Party of Belgium is profiting.

EUobserved

When two worlds collide

Two worlds collided at the end of last week. The shrill, uncompromising one of British politics and the technocratic, dry, world of the European Commission.

EUobserved

Schadenfreude and fire-walking in the EP

There was outright glee in the EP on Thursday. It was time to dust off everyone’s favourite German word for pleasure in the misfortune of others.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  2. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  3. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  4. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  5. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  6. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU
  7. Libya keeps coast guards rejected by the EU
  8. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us