“Alain Maron’s position in the Brussels government has become untenable”

14 September 2021

“I am calling on Minister-President Vervoort to put things in order in his government.” For Brussels MP Gilles Verstraeten, the position of Brussels Health Minister Alain Maron (Ecolo) has become untenable. After the totally failed vaccination campaign, Alain Maron is still putting obstacles in the way of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) that Brussels wants to introduce.

On Tuesday, the Internal Affairs Committee of the Brussels Parliament held a topical debate on the CST, following several questions from the opposition, including Gilles Verstraeten. In the debate, Minister-President Vervoort (PS) confirmed that he wants to introduce a CST in the Brussels-Capital Region “as soon as possible”. Just last week, Brussels Health Minister Alain Maron (Ecolo) stated that this would only happen “if the medical situation requires it”. For Gilles Verstraeten, it is therefore clear: “Alain Maron’s position as health minister has become untenable. His own colleagues are anonymously attacking him in the press. He is attracting increasing criticism from the majority parties in the Health Committee because of his failed vaccination campaign, and now he is also putting obstacles in the way of his own government, which is causing even more uncertainty. Things just cannot go on like this.”

For Gilles Verstraeten, the general introduction of a CST in the Brussels-Capital Region is primarily a measure to increase the low vaccination rates in Brussels and to mask Alain Maron’s failure. “Following experts such as Steven Van Gucht and Marius Gilbert, the Minister-President claims that the CST only serves and may only serve to guarantee safety and to limit the circulation of the virus at high-risk events, but it is clear from the discussion that the main hope is that it will convince people to be vaccinated after all.”

Maron kept waiting and denying

Gilles Verstraeten has had questions about this for some time. “For months now, the majority and the opposition in the Health Committee have been saying that Minister Maron must do more to build trust, he must appoint people in difficult neighbourhoods to convince people individually, and that better general communication is needed to counter disinformation. This was already started in Antwerp in October of 2020, and with a vaccination rate of over 80% in adults, people are now reaping its benefits. But Alain Maron kept waiting, denying, placating and appeasing, with the result that Brussels is now suffering in a valley of tears. Meanwhile, a huge group of Brussels residents, who have never been reached with accurate information, have descended deeply into vaccine scepticism.”

Call to put things in order in the Brussels government

For Gilles Verstraeten, it is clear that it is time to take political responsibility. “I am calling on Minister-President Vervoort to put things in order in his government. If Mr Maron is unable or unwilling to do it, Ms Elke Van den Brandt (Green), who has been absent throughout this health crisis, must be reminded of her joint responsibility as health minister. If she does not want to take up her responsibility either, after a year and a half of false rumour after false rumour, it is time for someone else who is capable of managing this crisis.”

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