Belgians returning from jihad in Iraq and Syria will be detained in the future, Prime Minister Charles Michel has announced.
Michel also told parliament in Brussels that his government would budget an additional €400 million for security spending after Belgian nationals were identified as suspects in Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris.
Protests by French farmers against low dairy and meat prices are dividing Europe. While similar actions are expected in neighboring Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands are irked that the Paris government is enacting protectionist measures in an attempt to quell the unrest. Read more “French Farmers’ Protests Divide Europe”
Belgium deployed troops in its major cities on Saturday to guard Jewish schools and government buildings, days after police in the country as well as in neighboring France and Germany carried out several counterterrorism operations.
Belgian police raided a group of suspected jihadists on Thursday in which explosives, guns and munitions were seized. A shootout in the city of Verviers left two suspects dead.
Belgium’s incoming prime minister Charles Michel emphasized labor and pension reforms in his first speech to parliament on Tuesday as head of a coalition of right-wing parties.
Alternating between Dutch and French, Michel, whose liberal Mouvement Réformateur is the only Walloon party in the new government, called for structural reforms in order to modernize Belgium. “To do nothing is to regress,” he said. “We reject fatalism and paralysis.”
Almost five months after parliamentary elections saw huge gains for Flanders’ nationalists, Belgium’s right-wing parties are expected to finalize a coalition deal later this week.
Among the most notable policy changes they are likely to enact is a two-year increase in the retirement age. None of the Flemish parties in the prospective coalition had promised such a raise in their election manifestos. It would be planned for 2030.
Belgium and the Netherlands said on Wednesday they would join Arab and American airstrikes against Islamic militants in Iraq but stop short of carrying out attacks in neighboring Syria where the group that calls itself the Islamic State is also active.
While Iraq’s government has formally asked other countries to help it battle the Islamic State, Dutch ruling Labor Party leader Diederik Samsom said on Sunday his party could only support military action in Syria under an international mandate. However, a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing strikes is likely to be blocked by Russia, an ally of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad. Read more “Belgium, Netherlands to Support Air Campaign in Iraq”
Belgium’s prime minister, Elio Di Rupo, resigned on Monday after his Socialist Party lost the federal election to the Flemish nationalists.
Bart De Wever’s New Flemish Alliance got 32 percent support on Sunday when the country voted in both national and European Parliament elections, making it the largest party in both Flanders and Belgium as a whole. Di Rupo’s Socialists won 30 percent of the votes.
“Far right” or “extreme right-wing” parties have emerged across Europe in recent years, if with varying levels of electoral success, demonstrating that they cannot be termed as constituting a pan-European movement. But they do have characteristics in common. Chief among them, from the perspective of European politics as a whole, is that they’re driving mainstream right-wing parties to the fringe. Read more “Anti-Immigration Parties Drive Conservatives to Fringe”
The overwhelming electoral success of Flanders’ nationalists this weekend can be seen as part of a larger Western European regionalization movement that threatens the very foundation of the European Union.