Sunday

11th Dec 2016

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.

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