Wednesday

18th Oct 2017

Focus

Belgian enemies seek common ground in EU parliament

Flemish separatist party N-VA is holding talks on joining the liberal group in the European Parliament despite its rivalry with Belgian liberals on the domestic scene.

Johan Van Overtveldt, an N-VA euro-deputy, told EUobserver on Wednesday (11 June): “We have been speaking informally to Alde [the liberal group] and we’ll make a decision in the coming days on which faction to join. We are also talking informally to the ECR group [a British-led anti-federalist faction]. These are basically the two options”.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He noted that N-VA and Alde see eye-to-eye on economic policy and on greater rights for regions.

“In terms of the economy, we’re relatively close. Regional issues are also very important to us and you already have Catalan and Basque deputies in Alde who seem to be quite happy, so in terms of economic and political philosophy there’s certainly an overlap,” he said, referring to Spanish separatist MEPs.

The N-VA believes the wealthier, Flemish-speaking north of Belgium should split from the poorer, French-speaking south.

It came top in both the national and EU elections in May, returning four MEPs, with its leader, Bart de Wever, mandated by the Belgian king to try to form a coalition government.

Its views on Belgium clash with those of two other Belgian parties which are lynchpins of the Alde establishment: the MR party led by former EU commissioner Louis Michel and the Open VLD party of Alde leader and former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt.

Van Overtveldt said it is “on the record” in Belgian media that Michel has criticised the idea of N-VA joining Alde.

He added: “It’s true we have specific views on Belgium compared to Mr Michel and Mr Verhofstadt, but that doesn’t mean there is not some common ground, so we’ll see how far we can get”.

An Alde source noted: “De Wever is not anti-European. If you take out their [N-VA's] support for Flemish independence, they could sit quite comfortably with us in economic and political terms.”

Alde took a beating in May when its British, German, and Italian delegations were all-but wiped out. But its Nordic side made gains, while several new MEPs have lined up to join.

It has attracted four deputies from the Czech Ano party; one from Germany’s Freie Wahler; and Iveta Grigule, a Latvian independent.

Eight more have applied, but are awaiting group approval: two from Portugal’s MPT party; four from Spain’s UPyD; and another two from Spain’s Ciudadanos party.

It is uncertain if its Basque and Catalan members would sit with the new Spanish MEPs. But the Alde source said if things go well, the group might get more than 70 members in total.

“It’s a moving target. Currently, we are likely to have something in the mid-60s,” he said.

Alde will make its final decision next Tuesday at a meeting of the leaders of its national delegations.

It was the third largest group in the previous legislature, giving decent speaking time in plenary and the role of “kingmaker” to Verhofstadt in wheeling and dealing with the top groups, the conservative EPP and the socialist S&D.

The source said Verhofstadt is “almost certain” to be reconfirmed as group leader on Tuesday.

But it remains to be seen whether he wants the job if Alde slips into fifth place, behind the EPP, S&D, Green and ECR factions.

Slovak Liberals unsure of EP group

Slovak liberals are weighing up whether to stick with the Liberal group in the European Parliament or try their luck with the anti-federalist ECR.

Brussels flightpath politics cause public furore

A recent decision to redirect flights over Brussels has caused uproar among locals and residents. But complicated Belgian politics means that solving the issue has become tangled up in the messy process of government-formation.

Anti-federalists nose ahead of liberals in EP

A last-minute decision by Flemish separatists to join the ECR group instead of Alde will mean more speaking time and better choice of committee seats for the anti-federalists.

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. Spanish Court declares Catalan referendum law void
  2. EU to keep 'Dieselgate' letter secret
  3. No deal yet on Mediterranean alliance for EU agencies
  4. EU Commission condemns Maltese journalist's murder
  5. Poland denies wrongdoing over forest logging
  6. Risk to asylum kids in EU increasing, says charity
  7. Schroeder warns of Turkey and Russia drifting towards China
  8. EU parliament wants equal pay for posted workers

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year

Latest News

  1. EU rejects UK claim it's slowing Brexit talks
  2. Nepal troops arrive in Libya to guard UN refugee agency
  3. Is Banking Authority HQ the Brexit 'booby prize'?
  4. EU-Russia trade bouncing back - despite sanctions
  5. No sign of Brexit speed-up after May-Juncker dinner
  6. EU defence strategy 'outsourced' to arms industry
  7. EU privacy rules tilt to industry, NGO says
  8. Malta in shock after car bomb kills crusading journalist