The principle federal government ministers, despite the government’s current caretaker status, are finalising the texts aiming to prepare Belgium for the potential consequences of a “no deal” Brexit. The legislative proposals will be examined in Cabinet on Friday, before being placed before parliament for consideration, announced the Prime Minister, Charles Michel, following a ministerial select committee meeting on Wednesday.
In practice, steps are particularly anticipated for Customs, the Federal Agency for Food Chain Safety (“AFSCA”) as well as the departments for Employment, Economy and Social Security.
“We are ready to subject the initial necessary texts for consideration on Friday, and then send them to the Council of State and parliament,” explained Charles Michel.
The Prime Minister will ask deputies to release “financial resources” to enable these measures. Budget estimates will be finalized and stated in the coming days, he explained. At the same time, he indicated that he had already drawn the attention of the President of the parliament as to the fact that the government would swiftly be subjecting these texts to consideration.
“It is a sure fact that the government’s caretaker status will make matters a little complicated, especially as to the budget,” he acknowledged.
Amongst the measures announced, the Minister for Agriculture, Denis Ducarme, has along with other aspects insisted upon the need to increase the number of auditors, inspectors and project managers for the AFSCA. At least 115 additional posts would become necessary [upon a “no deal” Brexit].
Simultaneously with the actions undertaken by the federal government, Mr Michel mentioned that work would also have to be undertaken by federal entities. “We must be certain that everyone is performing their given role, and that optimum coordination is in place,” he added.
The Prime Minister is clear that the ball is today, more than ever, in the British court. The rejection by the UK House of Commons last night of the Brexit withdrawal agreement covering the UK’s departure from the EU, makes the scenario of a hard Brexit “more likely”. In his eyes, the remaining 27 EU countries must maintain their present united front in their dealings with the British government.