By Tijs De Geyndt
The results of the different parties on the European list are usually in line with the percentages on other levels. Belgium will have 21 MEPs, as in the 2014 elections, their number being unaffected by Brexit.
Flemish speaking parties:
NV-A is the Flemish party with the biggest representation at 4 MEPs.
Open VLD, with former prime minster Guy Verhofstadt as ‘mr. Europe’, has 3 MEPs.
CD&V has 2 MEPs.
Other parties currently have one MEPs:
SP.a, Groen & Vlaams Belang.
Views on Europe and expectations
NV-A considers Europe the ideal level to tackle challenges that are too big for one country. But in their opinion the member states need to take the lead. What is decided on European level, or not, should be decided by the members at every point. They also focus on bringing Flanders as a region to the table, transferring all responsibilities to the Flemish level with a strong focus on ‘identity’ and shift things that exceed this level towards Europe. Current Flemish Minister-President is on top of the European list after 40 years of Belgian/Flemish politics. Bart De Wever has decided he will throw his popularity in the balance on the Flemish regional level. NV-A is expected to keep their 4 seats in European parliament.
Guy Verhofstadt hopes to set a good score and has ambition to attain a top post in the next commission. Open-VLD is, with Verhofstadt as its mascotte, is absolutely a fan of the European Union, regarding it as ‘a peace project that offers growth, hope and perspective’. They want to contribute to a strong federated Union fighting over regulation of business. The government shouldn’t intervene too much, as a part of this the institutions should become more simple and transparent. There is a possibility that Open-VLD scores better on the European level than on the expected loss on Federal and Regional level thanks to the popularity of Verhofstadt. But will this be enough to keep their current 3 seats?
Another important figure in recent Belgian politics can be found at the head of the list of the Flemish Christian Democrats. Kris Peeters, vice-president in the Federal government, who in October led a humiliating defeat against Bart De Wever in the Antwerp elections, has chosen to make his way to EU parliament. Marianne Thys, current European Commissioner for Social Affairs, Work, Skills and Labour mobility, was never able to make a mark and retires after the elections. Like most Belgian parties CD& V is explicitly in favour of Europe, seeing at as a quintessential level to tackle crossborder challenges like climate change and migration. With current polling scores CD&V would be happy to retain 2 seats.
Kathleen Van Brempt is the current MEP for the Flemish socialists. With a decent track record she is set for re-election, chances of conquering an extra seat are slim. SP-a tries to focus on the billions of tax revenues the Member States miss out on because of ‘tax shopping’ by multinationals. Most of all they urge the EU to have more attention for stronger social policy, the focus has been on liberal economic policy for too long in their view.
Bart Staes has represented the Flemish Greens for nearly 20 years as an MEP. After approval of the party congress the decision was confirmed that Petra De Sutter, a world leading authority in the field of gynaecology, will head the list. Bart Staes gets the second spot. Groen is hoping that the election polls confirm their optimism to score a second seat. Groen wants more Europe but a different Europe, more social and taking the lead in tackling climate change. They want more cooperation across borders exceeding the market and monetary focus. They also support a shift of responsibilities from member state level to a European level as to make it possible for Europe to speak more often as one voice on the global level.
The far-right Vlaams Belang has Gerolf Annemans as elected MEP and puts him forward as head of the list. Vlaams Belang call themselves pro-European yet wish to see a very different type of institution. The gravity of the decision making should stay at member states level and the free mobility of Europeans should be restricted, allowing member states to control their borders as they please.
French speaking parties:
PS: 3 MEP’s
MR: 3 MEP’s
Ecolo: 1 MEP
CDH: 1 MEP
Given current polls PS might just keep its 3 seats, MR will likely lose 1 seat at the expense of Ecolo with CDH also risking losing its only seat to the ecologists.