Ministers summoned to parliament to discuss budget cuts

Summary

Speaker of the Flemish Parliament Jan Peumans has scheduled a special committee session tomorrow with the minister-president and budget minister to discuss the government’s upcoming budget cuts

Special session on Thursday

Flanders’ minister-president Geert Bourgeois (pictured) and budget minister Annemie Turtelboom have been asked to return from the summer holiday break early to explain their proposed budget cuts in the Flemish Parliament.

Parliament speaker Jan Peumans has ordered a special committee session on Thursday following a complaint by opposition parties Groen and SP.A that parliament has not been informed about budget figures that are circulating in the press.

The new Flemish government recently announced that €8 billion in budget cuts would have to be made, leading to speculation about where they would fall. Flemish public transport authority De Lijn and public broadcaster VRT are likely to lose large subsidies, while families are likely to see a drop in child benefits and a hike in childcare costs.

Meanwhile, youth organisations such as the scouts and guides are afraid that they will also face big cuts in their budgets following the government’s announcement that it plans to save €1 billion in subsidies paid to associations. “We are worried about what Geert Bourgeois will announce in his September Declaration,” said Leen Van Vaerenberg of the Chiro youth movement. According to Christophe Lambrechts of the Flemish Scouts and Guides organisation, the cuts could force them to raise membership fees.

Bert Anciaux, former minister of culture, youth and sport, said that the austerity plans would “kill” the associations. “I have never seen such a brutal budget,” he said in an opinion piece in De Morgen.

Photo courtesy N-VA

Government of Flanders

Belgium is a federal state with several regional governments. The northern, Dutch-speaking region of Flanders is governed by the Flemish government, which was created when the Flemish Region and the Flemish Community joined forces in 1980. A minister-president presides over the government of Flanders, and Brussels is the capital city.
Competences - The government of Flanders is responsible for the economy, foreign trade, health care, energy, housing, agriculture, environmental concerns, public works and transport, employment policy, culture, education and science and innovation. Flanders also has the power to sign international treaties in these competencies.
Sole legislator - The powers of the Flemish government and of the federal government do not overlap. Therefore, only one government serves as legislator for each policy area. Flemish laws are called decrees. Decrees apply in co-ordination with federal laws.
Official holiday - 11 July is the official holiday of the Flemish Community, in commemoration of the Battle of the Golden Spurs in Kortrijk on 11 July 1302, when Flemings defeated the army of the French king. Flanders’ official anthem is “De Vlaamse Leeuw” (The Flemish Lion).
6

million people live in the Flemish Region.

5

provinces constitute the Flemish Region: West Flanders, East Flanders, Flemish Brabant, Antwerp and Limburg.

5

number of years for which the Flemish Parliament is elected. Its elections coincide with those of the European Parliament.