“A Flemish minister who is boycotting federal plans, is the last …

Zuhal Demir

Photo: BART DEWAELE

Flemish Energy Minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA) is not allowed to play “political games” with permits for gas-fired power stations. This warning is launched by Flemish party leader of Groen Björn Rzoska after Demir had made it clear that she will not adjust its climate plans when the nuclear power plants would close. “A Flemish Minister of Energy who is boycotting federal plans is the last thing our country needs today.” Coalition partners in the Flemish government CD&V and Open VLD also warn Demir that “sticking in the wheels for political reasons is out of the question”.

On Saturday morning, Demir expressed concern about the plans of Ecolo in particular to close the nuclear power plants by 2025. The minister made it clear that she will not change her policy. “They have to take us into account. If the federal government wants to build gas-fired power stations, it must obtain permits from Flanders. ”

According to Rzoska, Demir goes way beyond her book. “To approve or not to approve a permit is a decision made on the basis of legal criteria, not on the basis of political preference. A minister is not above the law and must respect rules and procedures ”, he responds.

Groen recalls that N-VA has co-developed and approved the system for replacement capacity for nuclear power stations, including gas-fired power stations. “It is dangerous and irresponsible that Demir is jeopardizing the security of supply of our families and companies because of political games”.

At the Flemish level, Groen sits on the opposition benches, but at the federal level, the party sits at the table with sister party Ecolo, the socialists, liberals and CD&V to discuss the formation of a new government. There N-VA is on the sidelines again.

“It’s out of the question to put a stop to political considerations”

Open VLD does not want to be “rushed” by Demir’s statement. “I don’t think it makes sense to crawl into the trenches about such themes,” responded Flemish Member of Parliament Willem-Frederik Schiltz. “This is too important. And the better that the different governments in our country can work together to tackle such challenges, the cheaper it is for the people and the faster we can deliver results. So we don’t let that rush us ”, it sounded.

And CD&V also expects Demir to “do everything in its power to ensure as much affordable energy supply as possible”. “Putting a stick in the wheels for political reasons is out of the question”, Robrecht Bothuyne responds. According to the Flemish Member of Parliament, the energy issue is “too important for political games”. “Our outdated nuclear power plants are no longer always reliable and whether two are extended or not: we have to invest in new production capacity,” said the CD&V employee, who notes that Demir’s own party is for the construction of new gas-fired power stations.

Bothuyne recalls that at the end of last year, Demir announced a trajectory for major investments in these plants. “It is therefore implausible and inadmissible that Minister Demir would now block these permits out of party politics, because it is contrary to the Flemish coalition agreement that promised to work on smooth permit procedures.”

N-VA is in the Flemish government together with Open VLD and CD&V. At the federal level, however, the latter two parties are sitting at the table without the N-VA to discuss the formation of a new government, including the socialists and greens. The fate of the nuclear power plants, which according to current law should close by 2025 at the latest, is one of the topics of discussion.

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