Far-right party challenges nomination of outgoing minister as EU Commissioner

Far-right party challenges nomination of outgoing minister as EU Commissioner
The nomination of the Outgoing Minister of Foreign Affairs was met with cross-party opposition and will be legally challenged by the far-right Vlaams Belang. Credit: © Belga

The far-right Vlaams Belang (VB) party on Monday said the caretaker government lacked the authority to nominate an outgoing federal minister for a EU Commissioner post, as it moved to legally challenge the nomination.

The VB said it would start a procedure with Belgium’s Council of State against the nomination of Didier Reynders, a member of the liberal French-speaking Mouvement Refourmateur (MR) party and the outgoing minister for foreign affairs.

The procedure will be submitted on the grounds that the current caretaker government, led by MR member Charles Michel, “is not competent to make such decisions,” Barbara Pas, an MP for the VB said, according to Bruzz.

According to Pas the nomination is an attempt by the MR to keep two top EU jobs in “Francophone liberal hands,” after the MR’s Michel was appointed to lead the European Council in July.

Announced at the weekend, Reynders’ nomination came after the EU requested national governments to submit their nominations for the future EU Commission by August 26, according to VTM News.

Opposition across party lines

The VB was not the only party to speak out against the nomination at the weekend, with two party leaders also branding the move as an attempt by the MR to remain politically relevant, after the liberal party suffered severe losses in the elections in May.

Peter De Roover, a member of the nationalist Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA), said that the caretaker government was “increasingly starting to look like an employment agency for current affairs ministers.”

Raoul Hedebouw, a spokesperson for the Parti de Travail Belge (PTB) said it was “crazy” that a party which lost in the elections could appoint two of its members for top EU jobs “without any parliamentary debate.”

The nominees for the future EU Commission are expected to be auditioned in September, with reports in Le Soir hinting that Reynders may be one of the first to speak to Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen.

The nominees are then expected to be approved by a vote in the European Parliament in October.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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