Chronicle of the week on inevitable state reform – Belgium


This week was mainly about the water shortage, the reopening of schools and how our health care should be organized. And there was also something about football club Anderlecht. Knack editor Ewald Pironet looks back.

1. State reform

“Efficient, unitary Belgium is a fairy tale.”

It is often said that now, with the corona crisis, it should not be about state reform. That does not alter the fact that it is about it. For example about what should be done with our healthcare. Everyone agrees that it is not organized efficiently today. And then the question is: should more be transferred to the regions or should everything be brought back to federal level? And like healthcare, there are many areas for which this question arises: in Flanders, SP.A and Open VLD tend to bring healthcare back to the federal level, while CD&V and N-VA want to further regionalize. The question is whether the new Open VLD chairman, Egbert Lachaert, will take a different path with his party. In any case, ten former presidents of the Liberal Flemish Student Union, who are therefore part of the liberal constituency, called on him in an opinion piece in De Standaard. A quote: ‘It is incomprehensible to us that some liberals want the states to merge into a rehabilitated Belgian unitary state. How do they intend to implement a liberal program at the board level where just about everything has gone wrong in recent years? Even Karel De Gucht once said that at federal level there was not a single file on which Flemish and French speakers could reach unanimity. The corona pandemic sharpens the discussion. The economic damage to our country is already huge. The time of muddling through and making debts is over, parties have to show socio-economic color. Do we get stuck in the infinite debt carousel, putting problems ahead of us? Or will we make our country future-proof in order to meet the pressing socio-economic challenges, which requires a socio-economic paradigm shift. But south of Sambre and Maas, the trinity PS-Ecolo-PTB is eager to talk about core tasks, the labor market or budgetary orthodoxy. Part of Open VLD believes that it is precisely with those collectivistic musers that they can negotiate a small, efficient government. This would eventually lead to a center-left party with a useful Flemish idiot as a DJ prime minister, where money is spread that is not there. And the liberals wouldn’t be welcome on the dance floor. ” End of quote. Among French speakers, the MR also wants to re-federalize and dreams of a unitary Belgium. The PS is not opposed to more going to the regions. This gives the party even more control over health care in the south of the country. There is one problem: money or better, the lack of money. So the PS wants to somehow ensure that Flanders continues to assist financially. Because let there be no misunderstanding: because of the financing law, the French speakers are now in financial trouble. That is an important reason for the French-speaking political parties to argue for a re-federalization: so that the money tap would open again completely. In any case, whether one likes it or not, the formation of a new government or new elections will become state theme. The federal government has not excelled in the past few months in clear, transparent communication about the measures to be taken as due to the coronavirus. The Flemish government was not much better. Everyone will remember the communication of Flemish minister Wouter Beke (CD&V) about what had to be done in the residential care centers. Last week, Flemish Minister of Education Ben Weyts (N-VA) made a mess of it. In recent weeks, all the boards and teachers have been busy redesigning their schools so that they meet the requirements for limited teaching. can give. Measurements and counting, taping and circulation systems were developed so that the students would not cross each other and so on. That all turns out not to be necessary now: it has been decided that the strict safety measures will be dropped, even in primary schools the classes can just reopen as for corona. ‘I ask forgiveness from all those directors and teachers who are already busy with the refurbishment of their school ‘, Weyts explained. Few ministers like Weyts asked for ‘forgiveness’ for the stings they dropped during the corona crisis. However, a more restrained and streamlined communication would of course have been better. During the corona crisis, the responsible politicians appear to have lost much of their credibility. This is partly because the (Flemish and federal) ministers have continuously sinned against the rules that apply to crisis communication. There was nothing to indicate that they are aware that the Crisis Center has been providing guidance for crisis communication since 2007. And if they did, they certainly didn’t take it to heart. That, too, is one of the lessons to be learned from the corona crisis. There have been alarms in recent days about the dramatic water shortage and suggestions on what to do about it. Of course, water should be used more economically. That is why the idea was put forward, among other things, to stimulate economy and to penalize water wastage with flexible tariffs. A few years ago it was already calculated that 180 million liters of tap water would leak every day. Without a doubt, we need to be more economical with water, but that also applies to water companies. They also charge an amount on their invoice to invest in the water pipes. That may also be viewed. The money in the football world always delivers beautiful stories, but it destroys the beauty of football.

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