Peter De Roover: “Abolish the pandemic law”

17 January 2023
Peter De Roover

The Chamber of Representatives is finally debating the evaluation of the Pandemic law that was submitted in June.  “That report is nothing more than the government patting itself on the back instead of the independent evaluation that we needed,” say group chairman Peter De Roover and MP Frieda Gijbels. “The question of the law’s added value is left unanswered.” That is why the N-VA continues to oppose the Pandemic law. Abolishing it is the only right choice. We will continue to insist on this.”

Parliament sidelined

De Roover considers that pandemic measures affecting the lives of our citizens must always be subject to democratic debate in parliament.  “But the current law sidelines parliament, with the result that this government and all subsequent governments will have authorisation over everything we do during a pandemic.”

Impartial report

The evaluation report draws only limited conclusions. First, that only two measures could be considered “less useful”, namely the universal face mask requirement and the famous window rule on trains. “But do you remember the difference between drinking a pint in a pub and in a disco? Or only having visitors if you have a garden gate? And numerous other measures raised eyebrows but are not evaluated in the report,” says Peter De Roover.

Confusing PowerPoint presentations

The report also discusses transparent communication to citizens. “This was while they had to plough through several confusing PowerPoint presentations and websites to be aware of the latest new measures.” The rapporteur also defends the overly broad definition of what constitutes a pandemic, the lack of parliamentary scrutiny by MPs and the limited options for citizens to challenge these measures.

The N-VA wants an independent, impartial evaluation

“What we needed was an independent, honest report. What we got was the De Croo government patting itself on the back,” added MP Frieda Gijbels, who is keeping track of the file for the Health Committee. The N-VA is therefore urging that work still be done to carry out our own independent, impartial evaluation of the Pandemic law, in which the question of whether it offers added value must be central. “A separate evaluation is currently being conducted through the OECD The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), established in 1961 as a result of the Marshall Plan, is a cooperation agreement between 34 countries in order to study and coordinate social and economic policy. The member countries try to solve their problems jointly and to mutually align their international policy. The organisation also collects statistical information to make comparative analyses. These OECD analyses are a valuable basis for the N-VA to test policy against itself or even to give shape to it. OECD , but this is still pending. In the meantime, several evaluations covering various elements have already been completed in the Netherlands.”

Abolish it

The N-VA stands firm. “Let common sense finally prevail and abolish the Pandemic law so that parliament can remain fully involved in policy,” De Roover concludes.

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