Mathias Vanden Borre: “The Brussels States General will be a flop”

31 July 2023
Mathias Vanden Borre

At the beginning of July, Brussels Minister Clerfayt (Défi party) gave a sneak preview of the first results of the “Toekomsten van Brussel” (Future of Brussels). That is the name of the long-announced States General where institutional questions about the organisation of the municipalities, Public Social Welfare Centres (OCMWs), police zones and the Region are to be discussed. “In fact, it is yet another citizen survey that, given the mountain of its design and complexity, will likely give birth to a mouse of a result. Half a million euros of taxpayers’ money down the drain,” says Brussels MP Mathias Vanden Borre.

The fish drowned through a tsunami of issues

Minister Clerfayt states that Brussels residents evaluate the current situation as “positive” and are strongly attached to Brussels. There seems to be great satisfaction with the areas of culture, sports, social assistance to individuals and health. Cleanliness, safety and housing do come up as priorities. However, Mathias Vanden Borre is still not satisfied. “The results of the institutional issues have not yet been analysed. Yet that was supposed to be the core issue of the States General. Due to the tsunami of various issues such as urban planning, the environment, housing and vocational training, the fish has drowned.”

Uniform and harmonised policy lacking

The fact that Brussels residents give culture, sport, social assistance to individuals and health good scores does not surprise Vanden Borre. “After all, those responsibilities are carried out by the communities. The Flemish Community invests more than EUR 1 billion annually in Brussels.” The fact that cleanliness and safety are highlighted as priorities does not raise Vanden Borre’s eyebrows either. “Those tasks are scattered across the Region and the 19 municipalities. Due to the Brussels institutional maze, a uniform and harmonised policy regarding cleanliness and safety is lacking. However, those institutional matters fade into the background because of the overabundance of issues dealt with by the States General. There is not even a start being made on untangling the institutional knot. The mismanagement that appears to be the norm in Brussels continues to exist.”

Not one iota has changed throughout the legislative term

Meanwhile, the Brussels Parliament is left in limbo. “In no way whatsoever has parliament been involved in the process of the Toekomsten van Brussel to date. Parliament will not be able to give it due consideration until the final report is presented in September. The Ecolo/Groen and parties have been given the runaround regarding institutional reforms. Not one iota has changed throughout the legislative term,” Vanden Borre notes.

Reform is impossible: Minister Clerfayt’s mission has been accomplished

Vanden Borre thus fears that the Toekomsten van Brussel will be a flop. “There is no indication at all as to how to proceed. The report is not expected until September, and then it will probably take a few more months to get it on the parliamentary agenda, which will take us to a few months before the elections. At that time, it is obviously completely impossible to implement another reform. Minister Clerfayt and his Défi party have thus accomplished their mission. They are reluctant to accept any institutional simplification of Brussels,” Mathias Vanden Borre concludes.

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