Liberals with wish list: today consult with PS and N-VA to start next phase ‘formation’

After a day of internal consultation and “scraping” a list of comments on the note from preformers Bart De Wever (N-VA) and Paul Magnette (PS), the liberals are again drawn to the duo today. The assignment is simple: enough “common ground“To go to the next phase and start a full formation. That may be possible tomorrow, when the duo must go to the king.

In the news: The corona pressure on the boiler remains very high.

The details: Belgium threatens to become the pariah of Europe, with other European countries imposing quarantine measures on travelers from this country.

  • It looks a bit medieval, a feudal patchwork of different areas where you can not just travel, or at least very far from the EU idea of ​​free movement of people: the way in which European states discourage their populations from traveling.
  • However, due to the increasing numbers of corona infections, Belgium is facing a serious problem: it will inevitably be reflected in negative colors on the map, orange and even red, and corresponding measures against travelers coming from this country.
  • At the moment, Belgium is already “orange”: the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) adopted this code, because the number of infections for more than two weeks was above 20 per 100,000 inhabitants: it is at 29.3, De Morgen knows.
  • Many countries follow the ECDC color code and this is how Belgium is slipping. But of course there is also a form of reciprocity in the codes: in recent weeks, the government of Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès (MR) has received very fierce reactions from Portugal and Sweden, among others, because Belgium valued those areas very strictly as’ unsafe ‘or’ orange ‘and even red. The latter, for parts of Lisbon, was subject to a travel ban, but orange also requires self-quarantine, although this is not mandatory. That led to strong reactions from those countries: After all, Brussels is not just any destination, but the capital of Europe.
  • With us it is not ECDC, but Celeval’s own experts, who depend on Public Health, which give the color codes. And they are noticeably stricter. For example, two parts of France are suddenly turning orange, including Paris.
  • But that is of course not appreciated by all “receiving” countries. The “harsh” attitude of Celeval and Public Health has caused the Ministry of Foreign Affairs major misery in recent weeks: it is officially they who declare the colors for Belgium, and so they caused some damage diplomaticallybut they have absolutely nothing to say about it.
  • Now that attitude threatens as one boomerang to come back: a number of countries are ready to ban Belgium.
    • The Netherlands has put the entire province of Antwerp on ‘orange’: home quarantine up to 14 days after a visit, which is only allowed if it is ‘necessary’, is recommended. You may continue traveling, but refuel or not rest.
    • The UK is ready to come up with a similar measure, but for the whole of Belgium. At least, that can be read in the British press. A mandatory quarantine for travelers of our country, up to 14 days, can follow.
    • For the Baltic states such a quarantine already applies to Belgium: if you come from our country, you have to be in isolation for two weeks.
  • Chances are that, with further increasing contamination figures, Belgium will sink further and further into the European lists, and more and more countries are closing their doors. After all, the stricter measures that were taken this week will probably only have an effect on the infection figures within two weeks.
  • The cacophony of European countries, each with its own code and approach, calls for a single coordinated EU approach. In retrospect, the way in which the borders were closed within Europe in retrospect was a shameful display for the European Union. The question is whether the European Commission will succeed in getting a foot in the door this time, and to make some things together. Because everyone agrees at European level that situations such as in March “must absolutely be avoided”.

Important to give: Measuring is knowing. Or not?

  • Meanwhile, particularly worrying news: are the official Sciensano figures correct? That scientific institute, which depends on the federal level, made Belgium world famous. After all, the method of killing corona counting was so rigid, so many cases were “included” in the figures that this country skyrocketed in international rankings, and has by far the most deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, of all medium-sized countries.
  • That others, such as the Netherlands, were much less strict, and if possible gave less accurate figures, matters little afterwards. Their own Central Bureau of Statistics comes with those figures, which are at most only briefly in the news in other countries. The image damage for Belgium is now there: internationally we have already generated the image by those figures as if this country would have gone through hell.
  • But now there are questions about the Sciensano figures: are their contamination figures correct? This question is asked in De Morgen: after all, it was established that, for example, in Kortrijk, based on figures from the city and the Flemish care administration, there were 28 infections last week. Sciensano is talking about four people.
  • And Kortrijk is not the only municipality where the figures differ significantly. More annoying is that the Flemish Agency for Care & Health, but also Sciensano, have no explanation for the differences. Flemish top official Karine Moykens, chairman of the Interfederal Committee for Testing & Tracing, sounds the alarm in De Morgen: “It the difference is very big, which worries me. ”

Worrying: The contact tracing is not organized properly.

  • A very invasive measure, not to mention leave your details behind every catering visit, was introduced last week. All independent entrepreneurs in the catering industry started working on this, without much grumbling.
  • But the government, which imposed the measure, will not do that for the time being: not a single cafe or restaurant has already had to pass on data, reports Het Nieuwsblad. So Kafka rules again, it seems. After all, the contact tracers in the call centers are “not competent for that”.
  • It is health inspectors and so-called case managers who must use the data from the catering forms to detect hotbeds. But… those case managers are still not operational. And the inspectors are only 20 people, for the whole of Flanders.
  • Thus, a crucial part in the fight against the virus remains messy: the investigation. In the meantime, the question may be asked why budgets were allocated to more than 100 million to set up that system, via the mutual health insurance funds, if the result is so poor.

During the negotiations: Today is another important day.

  • As long as corona grasps itself in such a way, the theme continues to weigh heavily on current events. That makes for one sense of urgency with the negotiators: there is a great ‘sense of duty’ among both the preformateurs De Wever and Magnette, and among their interlocutors that this time it must be “serious”.
  • In particular, De Wever, who, as mayor of Antwerp, must try to extinguish in the middle of the seat of the fire, impressed other negotiators with his attitude: the pressure on the preformateur is heavy.
  • But at the same time the duo makes good use of the situation: It is now or never, is the predominant feeling that hangs like veil over this episode in the endless negotiations.
  • That feeling is not unimportant, certainly to win over the liberals. And the Flemish liberals have been saying for two days in a row that they do not intend to let things go wrong: there is also a great “sense of responsibility” on Melsensstraat. “Everyone wants a deal.”
  • But that does not mean that Open Vld wants to “be respected“: Last week they had too much the feeling that PS and N-VA would arrange everything among themselves. But a fierce meeting on Tuesday between the liberals and the two preformateurs, sparked a lot: the bitty atmosphere turned into a real negotiation, which was constructive afterwards.
  • The agreement was that the liberals, on the note from De Wever and Magnette, which they saw, but were not given, were allowed to do their own “adaptation”: a wishlist so what they want to see “adapted”.
  • The liberal parties worked together yesterday on their answer, that is transferred today to the two preformateurs. There is little leakage in terms of content, but labor market reform is certainly on the list.
  • Furthermore, the gap between what is being spent on extra spending between the own “Arizona” proposal, which the liberals made as a compromise, went to work for N-VA and PS, and that of Magnette and De Wever, according to sources about 16 billion. A huge gulp on extra drinks, which the PS “received” from the N-VA. The liberals want to further reduce this.
  • It is expected to be there today again informal contacts between the duo of preformateurs and the liberals, to see how far apart they are.

The big picture: In what form and attitude do the liberals agree?

  • So far, MR and Open Vld continue to play it “together”: they come with one list of comments, which has been de facto drawn up by the Flemish liberals and their back office.
  • After all, the dynamism in the negotiations is completely revolved around the MR. That party was for months incontournable, so Open Vld always hung a little like the fifth wheel on the car when it came to purple-yellow. The PS pushed regularly to get Open Vld off, in such a construction.
  • But the opportunities have turned for Georges-Louis Bouchez (MR). He now has to cling to Lachaert: in the plans of the preformateurs actually no more room for the MR. That is why it is so important for the MR to underline that the liberal family is “one and indivisible”.
  • “Bouchez is only out to delay, let the crisis flare up, and then leave the government behind,” is the harsh judgment of a PS source. The socialists are very skeptical about the chances of success with the MR: no one believes they want to make an agreement there. So the question is whether the Flemish liberals can only switch.
  • But Open Vld keeps a cool head: if there can be substantive talk, and “nobody’s arm is wrapped around,” an agreement is reached, it is believed there. And then the MR will also follow, is the reasoning. Although it is recognized that it is not obvious work, with blurred relationships between the MR chairman and the other party leaders.
  • So everyone holds their breath about how Bouchez, but certainly Lachaert, lined up, the next few hours.

The next step: In any case, the duo is at the threshold of a new phase.

  • A visit to the king is planned for Friday. That sets a little a deadline, against which PS and N-VA work. They would like to go to the Palace with concrete progress: in this way, there is a steady pace in the attempt to form a government.
  • After all, a coalition agreement itself is not yet being negotiated, but the contours that are needed to get each party to the table are being negotiated. Such a “starting bill” will soon be the basis for working out a coalition agreement. However, such a coalition will be no phone book making appointments in a future coalition agreement: “That makes no sense whatsoever in unpredictable corona times,” according to a source.
  • Sooner or later the duo has to follow an “upgrade”, where they will work as real formators. The visit to the Palace tomorrow is too early: it will probably take more in such negotiations with the liberals than the 24 hours remaining, to arrive at a position with which everyone can start a formation.

To note: On the French-speaking side, there is still some hesitation about what will follow institutionally.

  • Not surprisingly, La Libre is very cautious about a forthcoming new round in Community reform. The newspaper’s influential commentator, Francis Van de Woestyne, does not disapprove of it, but makes one some critical comments.
  • The newspaper, which also today presents the French-language counterpart of Unizo, the UCM, has always been regarded as perhaps the most “Belgian” of all publications. It is no coincidence that UCM also says ‘no major reforms in the first two years’.
  • The French-speaking self-employed want “a government as soon as possible”, but “use the current instruments, and certainly not launch major reforms in the next two yearsUCM chairman Pierre-Frédéric Nyst posits with a tricolore sauce.
  • Van de Woestyne himself continues on that impetus: “Repair the broken land, do not dismantle it further“, He asks PS and certainly N-VA. “We know the obsession of the N-VA and its ultimate goal: the creation of an independent Flemish state. The spirit of the reforms should not be ideological, but functional: it is not about emptying the federal state, it must be an exercise to place the competences where the most effective policy is possible. ”
  • The question is how much such positions “weigh” in politics. PS and N-VA are quite far with a Community agreement. In any case, it is expected that in the area of ​​health care, but also the labor market and security policy, further decentralization will follow, in the future coalition agreement.
  • In addition, one can apply a technique that was also used in the 1980s: already “deduplicate” policy within the federal government, for the federal states. Certainly if those state governments are largely equal to the federal government in terms of composition, this is a workable option.

Also read: Conner Rousseau (sp.a) is introduced to the toll of fame.

  • Things are going fast for the young party chairman of the Flemish socialists. In the six months that he has led his party, he has grown into BV, which is in the spotlight, and is even specially followed on VTM in Summer Van, which says something about his status.
  • In Het Laatste Nieuws he sheds light on the impact that the new role has on his daily life: “In the past Nieuwpoort was my escape from reality. But when I am waiting for an ice cream or shopping, I am constantly addressed. People even ask for a selfie at a restaurant. Fortunately, they always remain polite and friendly, ”says Rousseau.
  • “I don’t mind being addressed, but it’s not always fun, because you can never turn the knob completely. I sometimes put on a cap and sunglasses, but they still recognize me. Even a mouth mask is not enough, ”he says.


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