French-speaking liberals MR are putting pressure on the Federal Government to keep nuclear power plants open in Belgium. Former energy minister Marie-Christine Marghem (MR) has bypassed the government with a proposal to reverse the planned nuclear phase-out.
MR's proposed bill was co-signed by the Flemish nationalist and opposition party N-VA as well as François De Smet for Défi, Le Soir reports.
The move was supported by MR leader Georges-Louis Bouchez, who wants to increase pressure on the Federal Government despite his party being a coalition partner that is currently negotiating the nuclear phase-out with operator Engie.
MR's political manoeuvre comes after a row between liberal French-speaking MR and the Flemish Open VLD after the defection of Alexia Bertrand (MR) to the Flemish liberal counterpart so she could replace Budget State Secretary Eva De Bleeker.
'Striking' political ploy
Despite the bill to reverse the nuclear phase-out, Bouchez denied that the move is an attack on the Open VLD-led government.
"Not at all. The text has been signed but we will not put it on the agenda of the committee. We will give the government time to complete the ongoing negotiations. But it is urgent."
Should the bill be put to a vote in parliament and an alternative majority to the government formed, it could provoke a major political crisis. But Bouchez insisted that this will not be the case after several of the government's coalition partners were warned of the danger.
Speaking to Le Soir, Bouchez repeated that "the bill will not be put to the vote. I repeat: there can be no question of seeking an alternative majority. It would be a mess. It's not my way of working."
- Major energy specialist criticises Belgium’s plans to phase out nuclear power
- Engie approaching record breaking €100 billion in revenue during 2022
Although Bouchez denied any political double-dealing, N-VA's Bert Wollants said it was "striking" that Marghem looked to the opposition for support for her legislation. Previously, MR had turned down N-VA offers to collaborate against Belgium's nuclear phase-out.
"We are now happy to contribute to a proposal that looks at our energy supply with an open mind," Wollants added. "Apparently that is difficult within the Vivaldi government."