The Belgian Government is continuing its analysis of the United Nations Migration Pact, Prime Minister Charles Michel said in the Chamber on Thursday in answer to questions from parliamentarians. There is still uncertainty about the position the Government will take on 10 December at the Marrakech Conference, where the Pact will be signed.
In late September, Prime Minister Michel had announced at the United Nations that Belgium would approve the pact. The question now being asked is whether this commitment was made by the Government or by the Prime Minister.
“My opinion is known,” Michel said. “In September I expressed a clear point of view. Since then, there have been questions, hesitations and objections expressed, not just in Belgium but in many European countries.”
The head of Belgium’s government compared the sharp debate around the Pact, which is opposed by the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) within the ruling majority, to the heated discussions of Autumn 2016 on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada. After intense negotiations and interpretive declarations, Belgium had agreed to sign that accord.
“At the time, I had demonstrated an implacable determination,” he stressed, adding, “I have fully measured the extent of my responsibility and the sense of the message that I issued at the United Nations.”
Both the opposition and the N-VA reminded the Prime Minister of his responsibility.
“You are the head of the Government and that means you can only intervene on behalf of the Government, on behalf of the four parties that comprise it,” the head of the N-VA group in parliament, Peter De Roover, warned. “Our group has given you room for you to convince us because, thus far, we still have basic questions.”