Belgium’s new government is ‘resolutely pro-European’
Wednesday, 30 September 2020
Credit: Belga/Dirk Waem
Belgium’s new federal Vivaldi coalition has renewed a series of international and European commitments in its government agreement.
By renewing these agreements, the coalition is profiling itself as a reliable but attentive partner in trade matters and opting “resolutely for an assertive pro-European attitude.”
The end of the current legislature will coincide with the Belgian Presidency of the EU Council in the first half of 2024.
Among a series of international commitments that largely confirm those of the European Commission, the incoming government has set a new objective for Belgian diplomacy: to take initiatives to limit the “crime of ecocide,” meaning the deliberate destruction of ecological systems.
On trade agreements that the EU signs with third countries, the Vivaldi coalition agreed on a compromise: Belgium will only accept new trade and investment agreements when health, social and environmental standards are applicable and binding.
Treaties that have already been signed will be presented to parliament for ratification, accompanied by an economic and sustainable development impact assessment.
As for the jurisdiction to settle disputes between multinationals and states, pending the creation of a genuine multilateral tribunal, the Vivaldi government will accept that the agreement provides for the creation of a tribunal if it offers “substantial guarantees on its independence and respect for the rule of law.”
As a result of “exceptional budgetary circumstances,” international cooperation expenditure will only have to reach the standard of 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) in 2030, and not in 2024 as NGOs have been calling for.
“A good first step” however, commented the CNCD-11.11.11 platform, welcoming the commitment of the De Croo team (outgoing Minister for Development Cooperation) to put in place “a binding growth path” to reach this goal.
Additionally, the incoming government seems willing to work at multilateral and EU levels, or, with a significant group of like-minded states if necessary, on “a list of effective and proportionate counter-measures in the event of Israeli annexation of Palestinian territory and possible timely recognition of the Palestinian state.”