The pandemic has shown that the Belgian state structure no longer works, and that the state needs to redesigned ‘with a blank slate,’ according to Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon (N-VA).
Jambon was delivering his traditional speech in Brussels on the eve of 11 July, the Flemish Community day.
The date commemorates the battle in 1302 at Kortrijk, when Flemish militias made up of farmers and tradesmen defeated French troops in a combat to become known as the Battle of the Golden Spurs.
Appropriately, the event today will take place in Kortrijk. Today will also see events large and small all over Flanders and Brussels.
“The corona crisis has been a severe ordeal over the past year and a half,” said, while stressing time after time that things were going now to be all right.
“The Flemish vaccination figures are among the best in Europe and the world, Flanders is showing great resilience and the economy is recovering. Tomorrow’s Flanders will be better than Flanders before the corona crisis. My ambition for Flanders, my ambition for you, is to reach the top. Nothing less.”
However there is one major obstacle to that ambition, he said, and that is the current state structure of the country – a problem that was thrown into sharp focus by the handling of the Covid crisis.
Among other issues, the division of responsibilities for health caused widespread confusion and delay in matters including hospital places and vaccination strategy.
“It is my deepest conviction that we have to redraw the blueprint of this country, and we have to start from a blank slate. We must start from Flanders and Wallonia, which are masters of all powers. And as good friends, as good neighbours, we have to agree on what we still want to do together,” he said.
At the same time, the German community and Brussels would need to achieve their own status, although he stressed the Flemish-nationalist mantra that Flanders “will not let Brussels go”.