The tiny southern Belgian region of Wallonia has made world headlines for blocking a trade deal between the EU and Canada, concerning 545 million potential beneficiaries. On 9 November 2016 the regional Walloon Parliament in Namur will be debating a much more local issue, how to decendly dispose of the ashes of the 15,000 Walloons who are cremated each year. In the unparalleled complexity of the Belgian federal set-up, legislation on funerals, cremation and burials are deemed a “regional competence”. Continue reading
We normally don’t write about trade policy on these pages. But today we do have to make a comment: the EU’s spectacular failure to agree on the signature and provisional application of the “Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement” (CETA) with Canada marks a new and decisive further step in the Union’s demise. Whatever the merits of the argument may be – the astounding fact that a regional government representing less than one percent of the EU’s population is allowed to block a trade deal that has been negotiated for seven years and that is considered by experts to represent a very satisfying negotiation result shows that the EU is now structurally unable to deliver on one of its core competences, trade policy. As a result, it can hardly any more expect to be taken seriously either by citizens or the outside world. Continue reading
The baby-selling industry, which caters for the needs of wealthy homo-couples wishing to play “parents”, is returning to Brussels for the second year in a row to hold a commercial fair entitled “Men having babies”. The event will take place in September at the Hilton Hotel in the city centre, which offers special rates for participants. The website of the organisers claims that this years’ edition will be bigger “given the high demand we had last year”, and from further reading on their website it is clear that to them having a “family”is very much a matter of offer and demand, i.e. that the “right to a child” is held by everyone who is wealthy enough to pay for it. The child is turned into a tradeable good, and human relationships are superseded by a radically commercial logic. Continue reading
This incident happened already some weeks ago (on 25 January, to be exact), but it is worth being recorded here. The man whose disruptive behaviour is spinning completely out of control is Louis Michel, a former Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs and former EU Commissioner. His son Charles is currently the Prime Minister of Belgium.
Quite astonishing that a man with such lack of manners was able to climb to such heights in both domestic and European politics.
“Reproductive medicine”, i.e. the production of babies in vitro for people who cannot have one (such as infertile couples, homosexual couples, or individual persons) is a big business that promises huge benefits for those involved in it. And quite obviously the baby-production industry has a big economic stake in ensuring that any legal obstacles for its activities to be removed, or, even better, in persuading lawmakers that these activities should be subsidized through public funding.
It is therefore self-evident that asking a “reproduction doctor” to be the rapporteur for a PACE resolution on surrogacy smacks of a conflict of interest. This is even more so if the person at question is not only a “reproduction doctor” (who happens to be the head of one among only 4 medical facilities in Belgium that offer surrogacy despite the absence of a legal framework for it), but also a well-known representative of the LGBT lobby, which seeks to create a legal entitlement for same-sex couples to get access to other people’s children. Continue reading
Many Catholics have criticised Pope Francis for having accepted the resignation, duly presented on his 75th birthday, of Mechelen-Brussels Archbishop André Joseph Léonard, and replacing this highly profiled defender of morality and human rights with the more soft-spoken former Bishop of Bruges, Mgr. Jozef De Kesel. But now it turns out that even Mgr. De Kezel, despite what some describe as “modernist inclinations”, will not be able to avoid being attacked by the country’s hyper-aggressive culture-of-death lobby. Just two weeks after having his new function as Belgian Primate, the country’s media are full of criticism against the new Archbishop who has dared to say that Catholic hospitals have the right to refuse practising abortion and euthanasiahe country’s media are full of criticism against the new Archbishop who has dared to say that Catholic hospitals have the right to refuse practising abortion and euthanasia. Continue reading
Five days after having declared the state of emergency, the Belgian government have lowered the threat level for the Brussels region to level 3 (out of 4).Police and army continue patrolling the city, but as of today at least metro and tram services are up to normal, and schools have re-opened.
One is tempted to wonder which new circumstances have allowed the authorities to consider that the security situation has improved. Continue reading