‘A problem of trust’: Disagreement within Flemish Government after decision on gas plants

‘A problem of trust’: Disagreement within Flemish Government after decision on gas plants
Photos from Belga

There is a problem of trust between the ministers of the Flemish Government, Open VLD chairman Egbert Lachaert said, following disagreement over a decision to not grant a permit for a gas plant in Vilvoorde.

Minister-President Jan Jambon (N-VA) confirmed the lack of confidence to VRT when addressing the decision, which was made by Flemish Minister for the Environment Zuhal Demir.

“Nobody is questioning the decision taken by colleague Demir,” Jambon stressed. “But what I do sense is that sometimes there is a problem with the style and communication of, for example, colleague Demir.”

There was great indignation among some of the Flemish ministers when Demir decided last week not to grant a permit for the construction of a gas plant in Vilvoorde.

The decision was particularly unpleasant for the federal government and for energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten, because subsidies had already been promised for the plant’s construction, as the plant is considered necessary for security of supply as Belgium plans to phase out nuclear power.

In its recent coalition agreement, the federal government confirmed a planned nuclear exit by 2025, but without the gas power plant in Vilvoorde, those efforts will be jeopardised.

This puts Open VLD and CD&V in a difficult position, VRT explained. They’re both in the federal and the Flemish government and are therefore constrained by Zuhal Demir’s decision.

Furthermore, it recently became known that the decision was already made back in October, but the entire government was only informed last week, which angered the coalition partners.

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Open VLD chairman Egbert Lachaert called Demir’s attitude “disloyal.”

“I think there is a problem of trust there when a minister takes such an important decision on October 29 without informing the colleagues of CD&V and Open VLD or even own ministers of N-VA,” Lachaert said.

“In the middle of negotiations on a climate plan, that is no small thing. So I think Jan Jambon will have some work to do to restore confidence.”

According to Jambon, the issue was discussed extensively at last Friday’s Council of Ministers.

“It is now my task, and I take it, to restore that trust,” he said.

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