Saturday

27th May 2017

Focus

EU liberals open door to Flemish separatists

  • Flanders flag: the Belgian opponents have common ground on EU affairs (Photo: crosby_cj)

Alde, the liberal group in the EU parliament, has cleared the way for the Flemish-separatist N-VA party to join its ranks.

It took the decision at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday (17 June) in which the Belgian MR party of former EU commissioner Louis Michel was the only Alde faction to vote against the move.

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.

The N-VA is expected to make up its mind at a congress on Wednesday morning.

If it says Yes, Alde is likely to retain its position as the third largest political group in the EU assembly with 71 MEPs.

The liberals’ British, German, and Italian delegations took a hammering in the May elections.

But Tuesday’s vote also swelled its ranks by accepting 13 new MEPs from the Czech Republic, Germany, Portugal, and Spain.

The MR voted against N-VA because they are opponents on the Belgian political scene.

N-VA believes the wealthier, Flemish-speaking north of Belgium should split from the poorer, French-speaking south, while the MR wants to keep the country united.

Meanwhile, the addition of the new Spanish MEPs had threatened to see two existing Alde members, from the Spanish separatist Basque and Catalan regions, leave.

But the prospect of the N-VA joining the group, a widely-expected outcome, saw the Spanish separatists decide to stay.

“Today’s vote means that if they [N-VA] choose to submit an application, then we, in principle, have no objections,” an Alde source said.

“Verhofstadt has managed to square the circle, to work on European issues and not to get bogged down in Spanish or Belgian institutional issues,” he added, referring to Alde leader and former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt.

The N-VA's EU affairs spokesman could not be reached for a comment.

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.

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.

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.

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. Malloch will not be US ambassador to the EU
  2. 'Significant' drop in EU migration to UK
  3. Bomb injures former Greek PM
  4. British PM to speak out on US terrorism leaks
  5. Tusk calls for 'values, not just interests' after Trump meeting
  6. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  7. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  8. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms