The majority party Open Vld is ready to support the request of the opposition parties Vooruit and Groen for a commission of inquiry into PFOS contamination near Zwijndrecht. This is what Open Vld leader Willem Fredrik Schelz said in the Flemish Parliament after Environment Minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA) came to explain her previous proposal on setting up such a commission of inquiry. At the request of N-VA faction leader Wilfried Vandaele, the session was again suspended. There is great tension between the Flemish majority parties.
Minister Demir surprised his friend and opponent today by proposing to Parliament the formation of a parliamentary investigation committee to investigate the file PFOS contamination in Zwijndrecht The environment is so light. It is somewhat unprecedented for a minister in his position to insist on setting up a commission of inquiry. The majority was also surprised by the minister’s “efforts.”
The opposition parties Gruen and Foret immediately put forward a proposal to put the minister’s proposal into practice. What followed was an hours-long parliamentary spectacle with more angles than the Circuit de Francorchamps. At first, the majority parties N-VA, CD&V, and Open Vld appeared to simply vote against the request of a commission of inquiry. “The hearings have been arranged. Let’s wait and see what they get,” was the content. CD&V member Koen van den Heuvel accused the opposition of providing a “scene” as N-VA faction leader Wilfried Vandele spoke of “political games”.
But the opposition advanced. The Minister was asked to ask her to give more text and explanation of her statement. This proposal was rejected, but Minister Demir decided on his own to return to Parliament. There, she said, it is Parliament itself that decides its work, but that the commission of inquiry is the “most transparent instrument” in her opinion. “Due to the file’s complexity and history, it is important to get the most out of it,” says Demir.
On the Minister’s explanation, Open Vld leader Willem Frederick Schiltz decided to join the opposition’s request to form a commission of inquiry. Immediately afterwards, N-VA leader Wilfried Vandaele requested that the session be suspended.
In the end, Groen and Vooruit’s request for emergency treatment was unanimously approved. But this is not the same as the establishment of the commission of inquiry itself. There must be at least 48 hours between the submission of such a motion and the actual vote. This way the majority gets some time to vote on the violins on the barbed file.
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