The Flemish government has been meeting about nitrogen for more than 15 hours, and 1,000 tractors are expected to arrive in Brussels on Friday | Policy

The Flemish government has been meeting about nitrogen for more than 15 hours, and 1,000 tractors are expected to arrive in Brussels on Friday |  Policy

There is a lot to do about nitrogen in the Netherlands, but in Flanders the government debated it all night – without reaching an agreement. The talks, which began at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, ended at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday. They have now resumed. Time is running out and tensions are running high. On Friday, a demonstration of 1,000 tractors is scheduled.

In Flanders too, the discussion centers on the position of farmers. They are lagging behind in the industry. It’s not just a sentiment: In the government’s original plan, farmers only get a new permit if they have a so-called impact score of less than 0.025 percent on a nearby nature reserve. For industry, that’s 1 percent. Above these values, permits can also be issued in exceptional cases, but only after a so-called “appropriate assessment”.

Christian Democratic Minister of Agriculture Jo Bruns wants agriculture and industry to receive the same treatment. Environment Minister Sahel Demir wants the Flemish nationalists to raise the minimum for farmers, but at the moment it is no more than 0.8 percent. The right to request such an appropriate and tailored assessment will then expire. She is afraid of wasting time. Agriculture is responsible for most of the nitrogen emissions in Flanders.

The second point of contention is the trading of nitrogen rights between farmers. The Christian Democrats endorse this: Older farmers can stop more quickly, while younger farmers can expand. Minister Demir is against it: It will only lead to bigger companies, not less nitrogen emissions. However, there will be agreement to support the shift from livestock breeding to nature management and arable farming.

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A tractor

The aggrieved farmers were now tired of the debates in Flemish politics and planned a large demonstration. A thousand tractors are expected to arrive in Brussels on Friday. It is the first time in twenty years that farmers in Belgium have come together en masse.

Farmers fear a “social and economic massacre”, but they also demand the rapid adoption of agricultural policy. As long as this does not happen, some crops cannot go to the ground.

strong man woman

The case is also politically interesting. It is widely considered whether Prime Minister Jan Gambon can retain his government of Flemish Nationalists (35 of the 124 seats in the Flemish Parliament), Christian Democrats (19) and Liberals (15) together. Last year, not he, but fellow party member Demir had developed into the “strong man” of Flanders. In addition to being Minister of the Environment (environment, as they say in Flanders), she is also Minister of Justice, Energy and Tourism. Apart from tourism, these are exactly the files that arouse a great deal of interest. like standard This morning’s headline: “More at Stake for Gambon Than Nitrogen.”

The Flemish Nationalists (New Flemish Alliance) should not be confused with the more extreme Vlaams Belang. N-VA is the largest party in Belgium and leader Bart de Wever is the mayor of Antwerp. Vlaams Belang is represented in several parliaments, but is nowhere on the board.

Talks have since resumed. Several committee meetings in which the relevant ministers were supposed to participate were cancelled. The Flemish Parliament meets at 2 p.m. Prime Minister Gambon then insists on being able to offer an agreement.

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