Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon said that he did comment on the ambiguity in the rules for indoor events in the latest Ministerial Decree before it was published, calling it “sloppy work” by Interior Affairs Minister Annelies Verlinden.
After party president of the Flemish right-wing N-VA Bart De Wever called out “major inconsistencies” in Verlinden’s latest Ministerial Decree last week, Verlinden said she was “surprised” by the criticism, as the Decree was drawn up after the Consultative Committee, with approval of Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon, who is De Wever’s party colleague.
“The Consultative Committee’s report is well-negotiated by all parties at the table. Then, Minister Verlinden goes to work to make the Ministerial Decree, and then she sends it around to everyone,” Jambon explained on local television on Sunday.
“This time, we had two hours to submit comments. Once you have sent in those comments, she does what she wants with them, there is no further consultation,” he said.
“For example, we gave comments on those indoor events, but they were not taken into account,” Jambon said. “My comment was that it was worded too vaguely, that there were indeed loopholes.”
“Either you want them, and then you should not complain that people use them, or you do not, and then you have to close them properly,” he added.
The discussion was triggered by “creative event organisers” who used a loophole in the Ministerial Decree by organising private parties in nightclubs on 1 September, allowing them to reopen one month ahead of the planned 1 October restart.
While Verlinden stated that this is unacceptable and not according to the spirit of the law, De Wever said that nightclubs are just following the letter of the law as it is printed in the Decree.
He also stated that those Decrees are full of “things that were not intended, things that cannot be applied, loopholes and inconsistencies,” adding that this erodes popular support for the measures.
According to Jambon, Verlinden now has to choose what happens next.
“Either we sit around the table together until the Ministerial Decree is ready, or the minister takes her responsibility,” he said. “The fault lies with a bit of sloppy work. I think that [the Decrees] need to be handled more carefully.”