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“It is time for the bitter truth: Belgium is bankrupt”
“Such a consultative committee on energy is an undisputed crown jewel of Belgian inability and surrealism. It is time for the bitter truth: this country is bankrupt. Our debt, our government spending, our deficits: we are becoming the new Greece. Prime Minister De Croo can say a lot, but he is unable to do anything. There are no reserves; there are no buffers.” N-VA Chairman Bart De Wever looked back over the political week in the De Zevende Dag television programme and did not mince his words.
The energy crisis is often directly linked to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but according to Bart De Wever, this crisis was not caused by Putin. “Europe has brought this upon itself by radically phasing out its own primary energy production. The US did just the opposite and is now a net exporter of oil and gas.”
“These are the consequences of green dogmatism: oil, gas, coal, they were all banned. We were no longer allowed to invest in reserves. The most stupid countries, Germany and Belgium, have also phased out their nuclear power in parallel. We have phased out all our own sources of energy and made ourselves dependent on Putin. Now we are suffering because of it. Perhaps people should vote for those parties that have already seen this coming for a long time and have systematically warned about it,” says Bart De Wever.
Like beggars to Paris
According to De Wever, the most powerful solutions will have to come from Europe. He refers to Commission President von der Leyen’s proposal to decouple the price of gas-linked energy production from that of renewable energy. “Great profits are being made with renewable energy. Nuclear power stations are cash cows, and the billions are flooding into Paris. The EU can change that by setting a cost-effective price and skimming off anything above that. That would mean an injection of many billions of euros for our country. In the meantime, we must now go to Paris like beggars. Where once we could have made a lot of profit, we have given those assets away.”
Insane people on another planet
That the nuclear exit was not stopped by the so-called Swedish coalition either is, according to Bart De Wever, a “half-truth and a whole lie”. “The nuclear phase-out is a Vivaldi law, and now we have a Vivaldi government again. I was completely alone in my opinion about the nuclear phase-out in the past. Gwendolyn Rutten, Wouter Beke, even Marghem declared me insane. According to Di Rupo, we at the N-VA lived on another planet. Now suddenly saying in hindsight that ‘everyone was involved’ is not right. I have always been consistent in that and have been defending nuclear power since the 1980s.”
Easter and Christmas on the same day
Flemish energy minister Zuhal Demir received a lot of headwind from her criticism of the consultative committee, but Bart De Wever agrees with her wholeheartedly. “That consultative committee is an undisputed crown jewel of Belgian inability and surrealism. With the agreement of our coalition partners, we have put the extension of nuclear power stations and a European reduction in CO2 emission rights on the table there, and that is then simply brushed aside by the prime minister – of the same party, no less. Tinne Van der Straeten did not even open her mouth there, but later on, she blithely stated that thanks to her, the two most recent nuclear power stations stay open longer. Yes, then Easter and Christmas will be on the same day.”
“We can take numerous measures,” according to De Wever, “but everything also has drawbacks. Miracles don’t exist. We will be getting a dip in prosperity. It is perhaps time for politicians to say that to the people honestly. It is already too late. It is time for the bitter truth: this country is bankrupt. Just look at our debt, our government spending, our deficits. We are worse than Southern Europe. That has to do with policy. This government has done nothing about it. I already said it two years ago: when the next economic shock comes, we will become the new Greece. We are in the weakest position of them all. Prime Minister De Croo can say a lot, but he is unable to do anything. There are no reserves; there is no buffer.”