Situated at the geographical and ideological heart of the European Union, Belgium is one of the most developed and wealthiest countries in the world. In less challenging times one could compare the (dis)functionality of Belgium to a surrealist picture by Magritte. But in the aftermath of the Brussels and Paris attacks, media opinion of both Belgium and the EU has been consistently critical, referring for example to Belgium as having become a ‘failed state’.
This media coverage is of course hyperbole but for any country there is always room for improvement. Belgium is aware of the fact that a simple paint job with beer, pralines, waffles and frites will no longer do. From security to policing, from labor markets to immigration, policies at national and supra-national level are arguably ripe for change.
Belgium is keen to seize the opportunity and adapt to these challenges, and in so doing to maintain its role as a driving force behind the ‘European Project’. Against this backdrop held a panel discussion with three young Belgian politicians. We discussed how Belgium, Europe and the United States can learn from each other in areas ranging from innovation to growth and from economics to security.
Our three panelists have been involved in national and European politics for long enough to know what works and what does not. At the same time they are still young enough to be able to effectively help change both Belgium and Europe for the better.
The panel was moderated by Rachel Rizzo, research associate at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). The 3 speakers were:
- Egbert Lachaert (Open VLD), Member of the Belgian House of Representatives (Federal Parliament), Member of the Committee on Economy, Innovation and Science Policy
- Koen Metsu (N-VA), Member of the Belgian House of Representatives (Federal Parliament), President of the Temporary Commission on Fighting Terrorism
- Peter Van Rompuy (CD&V), Member of the Belgian Senate (Federal Parliament), Vice-Chairman of the parliamentary Commission on Radicalization, Vice-Chairman of the Flemish Parliament. Has recently written a book called “Economy searching for Happiness”.
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