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Brussels to organise public debate about 5G roll-out

Credit: Belga

On Wednesday morning, Brussels Environment Minister Alain Maron announced that he wants to organise a public debate about 5G, to ensure that decisions on emission standards are taken in full transparency.

According to the Minister, the commercial offer for a so-called “5G light” launched by Proximus in some 30 municipalities across Belgium during the lockdown, demonstrated the need for a public debate.

MPs from almost all parties asked questions in the Environment Committee on Wednesday about the roll-out of a 5G network in Brussels, reports Bruzz.

The auction of 5G licences has been blocked, mainly because of political disagreements on the distribution of the proceeds.

At the moment, the tests for a 5G light network are almost exclusively happening in Flanders, as the Brussels’ radiation standards are too strict, and protests in Wallonia have stopped the rollout in several municipalities.

“The Region is not responsible for the 5G licences as such, only for the radiation standards, the licences needed for the antennas, and the fiscal aspect,” said Maron.

“Personally, I am in favour of the tax on the antennas becoming a regional competence, because now every municipality does its own thing and there are several lawsuits,” he said, adding that Bernard Clerfayt, Minister for Local Governments is in charge of that.

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“Everyone must be able to understand the issues at stake in terms of the environment, health, the economy and uses. On many of these points, the experts disagree with each other, and there is some controversy,” Maron told L’Echo, adding that he wants to hold a serene debate.

“The conspiracy theories linking the coronavirus to 5G will only develop more as decisions are taken without transparent debate,” he added.

What that public debate should look like, has not been decided yet. “It may take the form of a community consultation, a public inquiry, hearings or a traditional committee of inquiry,” he said.

“The government will discuss the appropriate form and decide as quickly as possible. Experts will certainly be involved in the debate,” Maron stressed.

The cabinets of the ministers concerned will start mutual consultations this week. When the debate will be held is not clear yet, but this is not a delay mechanism, he said. “After all, the licenses will still be issued this legislature,” he added.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times