Speech to the National Authorities
Ladies and Gentlemen
Last Sunday, tens of thousands of citizens marched through the streets of Brussels.
They sent a powerful message of concern about the future of our planet.
The fight against global warming will certainly be the battle of this century.
This requires a change in our methods of consumption, production, mobility or working...
Our message is clearly an optimistic one: mankind has all of the intellectual resources and ingenuity needed to ensure a sustainable future.
Offshore wind turbines in the North Sea generate electricity to power one million households in our country.
As part of the Investment Pact, Green Bonds will be issued to enable environmental and energy transition projects with a worth of almost €5 billion.
Work on the RER has been restarted. And the strategic rail investments have been approved in Parliament.
At the end of last year, the Coordination Committee approved our National Climate Plan with concrete and quantified measures to reduce our carbon footprint.
We must keep up the effort.
The call to action is clear: we need to do more, faster and stronger!
But simply stating an ambition is not enough.
Additional measures must be taken.
Their impact on citizens in the short, medium and long term must be determined. With precision and in all objectivity.
The message has not fallen on deaf ears.
It is our joint responsibility to make sure people can make ends meet, while staving off the end of the world.
The Federal Planning Bureau is perfectly placed to make an impact study of the various specific proposals.
Belgium, as the rest of Europe, wants to drive a Green Deal forward. An alliance in favour of more jobs, purchasing power, prosperity and sustainable development.
Two thousand and nineteen will be another year of democratic choices, with three elections being held at the same time.
The vitality and quality of democratic debate is based on reliable information.
This is the prerequisite for making free and informed choices.
Democratic institutions, political parties, trade unions, the media, citizens... it is our joint responsibility to feed trust in and the legitimacy of democracy on a daily basis.
Combating misinformation, boosting participatory democracy, and forging solutions to meet expectations in everyday and real life. This must be our common goal.
2019 will also be a key year for the future of Europe.
We are aware of the challenges faced by the European project.
A first challenge is making the economy more dynamic. This it is the key to jobs, solid social protection and a successful energy transition.
A second challenge is guaranteeing our security, including the development of a common European defence force.
This is the condition for ensuring our freedoms.
Finally, the regular, orderly and secure management of migration flows requires strengthening our multilateral cooperation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Brexit is beginning to look like a bad and expensive saga.
Obviously, we respect the outcome of the referendum. But there are also an increasing number of people in the UK regretting this choice.
Starting anew does not seem appear to be possible at this time...
I am convinced that there will be no winners. Not in Europe. Not in the United Kingdom....
And the clock is ticking... 29 March is creeping ever closer.
That is why we are preparing for a no-deal scenario.
At the moment, nobody can predict the future.
Uncertainty is putting severe political and economic pressure on the British.
In Belgium, we decided not to make such institutional adventures four years ago. Quite the contrary.
We made a deliberate and self-evident choice to strengthen the foundations of our country... To secure more jobs, more investments and more prosperity.
Our citizens and our companies look to us to govern. Not to bring the country to a standstill.
That is a matter of common sense.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to thank everyone who is working for a stronger society.
I am thinking of the thousands of volunteers who give all they can, without expecting anything in return.
And of the many who are committed to keeping us safe, or who care for the sick and the elderly.
They contribute to our society.
Our fellow countrymen are our most important asset.
Every day, they contribute to a solid and warm country.
I would like to thank you for everything you do to further our citizens’ interests.
On behalf of the government, I wish you and your family an excellent year.
I wish you an excellent 2019!