A difference of opinion in political circles over the money paid to politicians who leave the job has been sparked off again by the news that Jo Vandeurzen, now minister of health in the Flemish government, is to collect €400,000 when he leaves politics in May next year. The premium is paid to MPs in the various governments, and to ministers, when they step down. Vandeurzen is eligible for the premium, which is awarded according to length of service, in his case 25 years. He will not be seeking another political position at any level.
According to Jan Peumans, speaker of the Flemish parliament, he is willing to re-open the discussion on leaving premiums. The question last arose in 2011 when Sven Gatz, a member of the Flemish parliament, left to become director of the Belgian Brewers Federation. He was entitled to a premium of €300,000 for 16 years of service, but some voices argued that since he was stepping down voluntarily, there was no reason to compensate him. In the end, he took the decision to renounce the payment.
Such is now also the case for Herman De Croo, former minister, former speaker of the federal parliament and its longest serving member. De Croo (pictured), father of the minister for telecommunications Alexander, has said he will not be applying for the payment. Now 81 years old with 51 years of parliamentary service under his belt, he would be entitled to the maximum payment of €376,000 (based on 48 months final salary – De Croo is an ordinary MP, whereas Vandeurzen is a minister).
“I wouldn’t want to leave this life with the guilty feeling that I had obtained more than I deserve,” he said. “I have already had so much satisfaction from the people, and from what I was able to do as party chairman, as minister and as MP. That’s just about enough for me.”