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Belgium needs a clear exit plan quickly, says Bart De Wever

Smart countries are winning the future today, according to De Wever. Credit: Belga

For the recovery of the economy, Belgium has to prepare “a comprehensive exit plan” from the containment because of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) quickly, said Bart De Wever.

De Wever, leader of the rightwing N-VA party, hopes that the National Security Council and the Group of Experts for an Exit Strategy (GEES) will come up with clear guidelines and decisions on Friday, as there is a “grey zone” now, according to him.

“Smart countries are winning the future today,” said De Wever on Radio 1 on Monday, pointing to countries like Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, which are already further ahead in their exit strategy. “It is high time, we are running behind our neighbouring countries,” he added.

“Nothing is as false as the contradiction between economy and health. Sacrificing prosperity also costs an enormous number of healthy years of life. No strong prosperity means no strong health care. We have to make sure that the reaction to the crisis is no worse than the crisis itself in the long run,” De Wever said.

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“One should not underestimate the great pressure mayors are under today. As there are so many grey areas under the current rules, it is difficult to answer all the questions,” said De Wever, who is also mayor of the city of Antwerp. “I have received a lot of emails from people who do not understand why one store is allowed to open and the other is not,” he added.

The composition of the GEES is also “somewhat unbalanced,” according to De Wever, as the “economic aspect” could have been a little bigger, he said.

“The well-being of the coming decades will be decided in the coming months,” De Wever, adding that he was ready to return to negotiations to form a federal government “that would not be based on the PS (Walloon socialist party) and Ecolo (Walloon green party).”

The current Wilmès government works with proxies, and had been granted special powers to deal with the health crisis. The system will be evaluated in June, but N-VA is not in favour of prolonging the system, with De Wever saying that “the balloon of the proxies is emptying.”

“We are ready to compromise, but on the basis of our logic and a programme that we consider important,” he said, adding that he is not interested otherwise.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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