Brussels Minister-President Rudi Vervoort reviews the issues that are agitating the capital. Selected pieces.
This weekend, the Iris Festival will mark the 33rd anniversary of the Brussels Region. “Despite all attempts, she has not yet been crucified,” jokes Rudi Vervoort (PS) who believes that the capital is doing rather well in view of everything that has fallen on its head over the past two legislatures. From the lockdown to the pandemic, without forgetting the attacks or even the tunnels, it is the sectors which make the specificity of the Brussels fabric, tourism, catering and events, which have taken the most money. “This second blow due to covid was less violent in its direct expression than the attacks, but much more destructive in the medium and long term.”
Sectors of the future
Economically, should we still focus on the tourism and convention sector? “Of course! Tourism will evolve, but it is wrong to think that everything will disappear. We remain an attractive region, in particular thanks to the presence of international institutions.” Other sectors of the future? “Start-ups in new technologies, artificial intelligence. Everything that is a factor of development for cities. On a State mission in Greece, we presented to the King a model of artificial intelligence applied to immersive experiences in the cultural field.he fabric of Brussels is full of initiatives of this type and we are available to support them.”
“We have mandated the two secretaries general of the BRPS to seek ways to make the administration more efficient. And this without taboo. We are not going to forbid them to think. At the end of June, we will have a report on the “quick wins”. But the most interesting thing will be to end up a white paper that can be included in the next government agreement. If there are structural changes, we are not the ones who will implement them.”
With a financial gain at stake? “Due to the pandemic, the acceleration of telework and the end of the logic of the personal office, one can imagine physical regroupings. It is enough to visit the Iris Tower to realize that the administration has entered into another era. If there are positive effects on the budgetary trajectory, so much the better, but the goal will only be to be more efficient and make things better. Otherwise we are in stupid and wicked austerity.
According to their co-president Rajae Maouane, the Greens are promoting a more balanced city model after excessive concretization defended by the traditional parties. “It’s quite insulting for Evelyne Huytebroeck and Christos Doulkeridis who sat in government for ten years to say that we finally understood now what had to be done. Some issues that tense today were carried by majorities with Ecolo, which was competent in housing. It was not us who suddenly decided to go there. We would almost be made objective allies of the concrete workers and of Brussels, when everything we do complies with the PRDD (regional plan for sustainable development, NLDR).”
“For the PADs (master development plans, editor’s note) on public land, some would like us to do nothing at all. While these are the only places where one can have ambition to meet the needs of many families waiting for social housing. But it’s not all or nothing. We must find this balance between the functions and respond to the development priorities of Brussels which are well known: housing, productive activities, quality public spaces, green spaces.”
“We have to create housing. The reconversion of offices costs a lot of money and we are therefore generally on superior projects. Just see the Léopold tower, in Evere, the prices are mind-blowing. In addition, the latest inventory on the demography of Perspective.Brussels shows that we will have to build a lot of housing between now and 2030. The high birth rate of the last 15 years will lead to the arrival of today’s many teenagers on the real estate market over the next decade.”
The ritual slaughter
“It wasn’t by distraction that we didn’t put anything about ritual slaughter in the majority agreement. We knew we wouldn’t get there. majority to table a text to impose prior stunning.I don’t know if it’s still possible, but I hope to return to a certain serenity at the level of the parliamentary groups. What we are experiencing there is quite distressing. We could have saved all of that.”
“I know a little about this community and they are up in arms. I think some at DéFI are starting to realize this.”
“Even if I have my opinion on the matter, I understand the debate on neutrality, because it is not black or white and we can evolve in our thinking in relation to that. With the slaughter, we are on another whatever one says about it. There is a denial of reality. France has built a magnificent slaughterhouse in Roubaix, it’s not by distraction either. Because we are not going to ban the marketing and consumption of halal meat. Fortunately, no one disputes that.”
“During the election campaigns, no one spoke to me about the headscarf. Including veiled women. On the other hand, the issue of meat aroused real fear in the community. Their petition has already gathered 100,000 signatories. I know a little about this community and they are upwind. I think some at DéFI are starting to realize that.”
“Pedagogy and consultation are essential in mobility. We cannot work by saying: we are going to do this, people will only have to adapt. I can already hear that this is creating tensions in the neighborhoods in Schaerbeek The closer we get to the election deadline, the more this will become subject to instrumentalization and controversy. think carefully about the timetables for implementing Good Move meshes (regional mobility plan, editor’s note) in the municipalities to avoid creating an anti-soft mobility climate.”
The subway debate
“Do you think that the inhabitants are concerned by this debate? These “experts” represent what? Nothing. It is the truth. Or we no longer have a representative democracy, but a regime of experts, of people who know better than everyone else, but never get wet. I invite them to take the 55 tram at rush hour when it is overcrowded, with no guarantee of being able to get on it. In Evere, we see more and more people walking along the line. We are also here to represent citizens who have a legitimate right to be able to benefit from fast, efficient, safe and comfortable means of transport to get to the city center.
“While the NATO area will see major urban development projects, the tram will really become a problem.”
“That there is a reflection on the cost, I can hear that. But here we mix elements of opportunity, sustainability and a question of principle, the rejection of the metro, which we try to supply with economic factors linked to the rise in prices While the NATO area will see major urban development projects, the tram will really become a problem. The metro has a cost, but we build it for at least a hundred years.”
“There will be a budgetary issue which will require choices, this cannot be denied. Options will have to be taken. There are always the Beliris pocket with more than 400 million euros which were committed, but never liquidated. The idea is that this money should be allocated to the metro, in addition to the 50 million euros per year. The Federal government, which uses it as an adjustment variable for its budget, must at some point show interest in an investment that concerns their capital.”
The Herrmann-Debroux viaduct
“The Walloon deputies who oppose its destruction are both right and wrong. They are wrong because we are only at the beginning of a process whose horizon line is demolition. It is legitimate for Brussels to set this objective. But between now and the first pickaxe, the time will still be long, and we will indeed have to plan a whole series of accompanying measures. The Flemings had the same reaction with the reduction of the strips on the E40, while it had absolutely no effect.
“I think that for the clarity of the debate, it would probably be better to vote separately for the Federal and the Regions.”
“It had escaped me that we were 4th. I thought we were 3rd. The PTB is in front of us? It’s not a figure of speech huh, it’s just because I’m not paying much attention. As Pascal Delwit said, we were 3rd when the campaign started in 2019 and we came out first. The poll in Brussels is also the result of a limited sampling, with a very large margin of error.”
No doubt then? “The socialist party must have a global questioning in relation to the management of things. I know here that the respondent does not comment specifically on Brussels, but on the general image he has of the party, so the federal level also intervenes in this perception. Is there enough clarity? How does the voter perceive what is happening within the Vivaldi with this permanent hubbub? I think that for the clarity of the debate, it would probably be better to vote separately for the Federal and the Regions.
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Rudi Vervoort, Brussels Minister-President: “We will have to build a lot of housing in Brussels by 2030”
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