Outgoing Prime Minister Charles Michel voiced criticism of the Ecolo party on Tuesday, accusing it of creating the perception that his government had not made any progress fighting climate change during his tenure. While he did acknowledge the sincerity of some within Ecolo, Michel remained critical of what he described as “a form of arrogance amongst some (others) who wish to reinvigorate the citizen movement, without having an in-depth debate upon the relevant issues.”
“Sooner and later, political parties will have to demonstrate their concrete ideas,” said Michel. “Moreover, they must elaborate on the impact of these upon purchasing power and economic development. We will not succeed in rising to the climate challenge within an economic desert. Nor by the forcing thousands of businesses to leave, having stigmatised them for their environmental performance,” he added.
Ecolo is the party which has seen the greatest increase in the opinion polls of recent weeks, especially in Brussels and Walloon Brabant, where Michel will head the list of parliamentary Mouvement Reformateur (MR) candidates.
Michel, who took over leadership of MR on Monday, said that he is aware that his party has to “explain in greater detail what we have done and also do more.”
One area which his government has shown progress is in ‘green bonds’, said Michel. These aim to stimulate investments in sustainable projects, the expansion of both North Sea offshore wind farms and the agreement on the national climate plan
Regarding company cars “we have begun to act with the mobility budget,” said Michel. “That having been said, we must be careful not to impoverish the middle class, for whom the car is both an absolute necessity, and a form of salary.”
In Michel’s view, citizens will be faced with a “major choice,” between the return to the age-old institutional debate, or the capacity for an open discussion upon the economy, society, safety and climate.
“I learned a lesson from the previous election, in which I asserted that I would prefer not to govern in a coalition with the N-VA,” said Michel. “Why? I had not anticipated that the N-VA would be ready to give up the separatism policy. Likewise, I cannot anticipate what policies other parties will relinquish after the forthcoming elections,” he added.
As for concerns over whether Michel is speaking as the President of the MR or the Prime Minister, “I am a single and indivisible entity,” said Michel.
On Monday, members of three Belgian political parties criticised Michel for abandoning his post and warning of the risk of “a permanent election campaign”.