Jonas Roosens

MEP Sander Loones to become Defence Minister

The Flemish Nationalist have put forward the party’s Vice-President, the MEP Sander Loones to take on the post of Defence Minister in the Federal Government mid-November. The current Defence Minister Steven Vandeput is to leave the Federal Government to become the new Mayor of the Limburg city of Hasselt, a post he will assume from 1 January 2019. With the Federal Elections on the horizon, Mr Loones will be Defence Minister for just 6 months. 

Sander Loones has sat in the European Parliament since 2014. The 39-year-old is the Vice-President of the Flemish nationalist party N-VA. Previously he worked as a researcher for the party and was closely involved in the Federal Government negotiations 5 years ago.        

He is from the coastal village of Oostduinkerke. He headed his party’s list for the municipal elections on 14 October in the municipality of Koksijde of which Oostduinkerke is a part.  

“A true West Fleming”

The leader of the Flemish nationalist party Bart De Wever told journalists "Sander is a true West Vlaming: a hard worker, with little front and a lot of content. He was one of our most important negotiators behind the scenes when the government was formed in 2014 and as National Vice-President of our party he follows the work of the government closely. He is the right man to continue Steven Vandeput’s work.”  

Mr Loones will take on his new post in mid-November. His seat in the European Parliament will be taken by 28-year-old Ralph Packet from Tervuren (Flemish Brabant). Mr Packet is a former President of the Flemish nationalist party’s youth wing.  

Although, he won’t become Mayor until 1 January, Mr Vandeput wants to take time to prepare himself for his new challenge. 

“Continue Steven Vandeput’s work”

Speaking on VRT Radio 1, Mr Loones said that his mission will be above all “to continue the work of Steven Vandeput”.

"Steven Vandeput has made his mark. It will be my job to continue the excellent work he has done. Over the past few year the Defence Department has made great efforts in the fight against IS and here at home. There have been investments in our army to make it modern and effective again. We have ensured that we are considered to be a trust worthy partner both in Europe and on the international stage.