Majority approves migration pact, but N-VA says it’s not valid

Summary

While a federal parliament majority voted to approve a resolution on the UN’s Global Compact on Migration, N-VA’s fraction leader says that without his party, it isn’t valid

‘Not a decision’

A majority of the federal parliament voted to approve a resolution on the UN’s Global Compact on Migration this afternoon, following days of tense negotiations and fear that the government would collapse over the issue. The vote saw approval from a majority of the parties, including Flemish parties CD&V, Open Vld, Groen and SP.A.

N-VA voted against the resolution and claims that prime minister Charles Michel cannot sign the UN’s pact without approval of the coalition partners. N-VA is the largest party in the government. N-VA parliamentary leader Peter De Roover (pictured) has said that his party will not walk out of the government over the issue.

“This is a vote for a resolution, but it’s not a decision,” De Roover told Radio 1. “A decision is taken by the government. And a government that includes N-VA will not take this decision.”

Parliament will reconvene tomorrow at which the parliamentary committee for foreign affairs will again state its case. This will be followed by a vote of the full house, after which Michel will explain exactly what he intends to do. Michel is in a delicate situation as he announced earlier that Belgium would sign on to the pact, mentioning it in a speech at the UN in September.

Non-binding pact

The pact, which was finalised last summer and signed off by diplomats from 180 countries after two years of negotiations, contains basic guidelines for immigration into Europe. It agrees, for instance, to ease the pressure on countries already hosting many migrants and states that countries cannot deal with the issue on their own.

While the pact is non-binding, political parties across Europe are still hotly contesting some of its provisions having to do with respecting migrants’ own culture and allowing legal residents to receive social benefits. Those without legal residency should be allowed "basic services", according to the pact.

Leaders are expected in Marrakesh next week to sign the pact, though several countries have already announced that they will not be signing, including Poland, Hungary, the US, Italy and Austria.

Photo: Eric Lalmand/BELGA