Tuesday

17th Jan 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.

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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  2. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  3. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  4. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  5. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  6. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  7. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  8. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  9. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  10. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!
  11. Dialogue PlatformInterview: Fethullah Gulen Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey
  12. Zero Waste EuropePublic Support Needed to Promote Zero Waste in More Municipalities